Onboarding can be a long, tedious process. Hours spent on paperwork, going through monotonous orientation programs, and reviewing company policies don’t exactly spark excitement and motivation in new hires.

But with significant improvements in Virtual Reality (VR) training technology, some employee onboarding processes have taken on a completely different flavour.

For example, in 2017 Siemens began using a Virtual Reality training program to prepare future employees for high-risk work environments such as oil and gas rigs.  The training simulates emergencies and error handling, but also covers the very concrete “daily business” on a platform. When the outcomes of decisions can be simulated in virtual reality, mistakes don’t lead to damage and casualties, greatly increasing the efficiency of the training.

The industrial manufacturing giant is one of several forward-looking companies who have taken the leap and are leveraging VR for HR. The transformative power of Virtual Reality is helping companies tap a variety of niches in human resources management. In this post we’ll review how VR can enhance employee onboarding and training:

Immersive employee onboarding

Virtual reality gives you the opportunity to thrill and excite new employees with a rich, immersive experience. Whether it’s conveying your company’s mission and vision directly from the CEO, interactive sessions to get employees up to speed, or giving a realistic feel of company culture – an immersive VR experience can go a long way to making new employees feel like they belong at your company. A standardised Virtual Reality onboarding process also dramatically reduces the workload of HR managers by automating monotonous onboarding practices.

Using VR for employee onboarding is already showing great promise. Honeygrow, a Philadelphia based restaurant chain, reported that within 30 days of implementing VR training for employee onboarding, the number of team members fully-certified on culture and training soared from 50 to 77 percent.

Virtual site orientation: Travel the world from the office

Giant chains and Multinational Corporations can rollout VR tours as a standard protocol for site orientation. By doing so they can take their employees on a virtual tour of their multiple facilities across the globe and give them a feel of cross-cultures without the expense of flying them out to a number of different countries.

Assimilation for remote teams

Brining on new hires to work as part of a remote team is a tricky process. Many end up leaving within the first six months as the result of a broken onboarding process. Often, team assimilation sessions don’t produce the intended results. VR can really help here by enabling more realistic ‘face-to-face’ interaction amongst dispersed employees.

Continual employee education and communication

Let’s be honest — e-mail is an overused and less-than-ideal way to communicate with employees. It’s efficient and simple, but important messages often get lost amid a sea of other emails. Even when the emails are read, it’s not a very memorable medium.  Video is better. But still, watching a video on your computer is passive, and you can get easily distracted as the video plays. VR is immersive, interactive, and memorable. It transports you into a world where your attention is 100% on what you’re seeing in your headset. So for either ongoing employee communication or one-off events, VR allows you to connect with staff in a much more impactful way.

Integrating Virtual Reality training: Best practices

  • Begin with shorter VR videos: Jumping right into a 360-degree immersive experience can be a little disorienting for some people. Begin the onboarding process with short VR videos.
  • Make it interactive: Don’t shy away from making creating active VR training simulations. Interactive features like hotspot overlays and voiceover for instructions can help you create a truly immersive experience.
  • Measuring efficacy: Remember, what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done. Collect feedback from users on their experiences. VR analytics can provide you with a heat map of where users were focusing within a scene. Like with any UX, improving the VR onboarding experience is an iterative process.
  • Depending on the number of employees you onboard every year, you can choose multiple distribution methods from the humble Google Cardboard to more premium headset options such as the Oculus Rift.