Immersive Employee Experiences Offer Organizations a Talent Advantage
As organizations continue to compete for top talent, they’re finding that they need to change recruitment and retention tactics. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that while talent acquisition teams were striving to meet their companies’ hiring numbers last year, “the focus is shifting now to candidate and employee experience.” Forward-thinking organizations are taking employee experience (EX) seriously to attract and retain talent, and many are creating immersive experiences to enhance EX.
To understand why organizations are focusing on immersive EX, it’s important to grasp that immersive experiences are fundamentally multisensory experiences. They often involve a combination of user interfaces (UIs) such as these:
- flat UI, in the form of a phone, a tablet, and monitor screens;
- natural UI that supports voice assistance, hand-gesture controls, and haptic feedback like vibrations; and
- mixed reality UI, which includes augmented and virtual reality interfaces.
These technologies can enhance candidate and employee experiences with benefits that go beyond making an organization more attractive to talent. It’s well known that companies with great EX deliver better customer experiences, because employees are engaged in their mission and empowered to solve customers’ problems. That, in turn, can lead to more revenue, per a Forbes Insights and Salesforce report, which found that “companies that have both high EX and CX see almost double the revenue growth as those that do not.”
Immersive Experiences Attract Candidates and Retain Employees
Immersive employee experiences can take many forms. You might think of someone wearing a headset and virtually learning to build a new machine, but there are other use cases.
Immersive self-service portals. We often hear from organizations that their employee portal is outdated or hard for employees to use. That can cause daily frustration, especially when you consider how many applications an employee interacts with, such as an email client, a document repository, an employee directory, and so on.
Employees are accustomed to using text messages, chatbots, or voice assistants to find what they need when they shop or engage socially online, but legacy employee portals don’t provide that level of convenience. An immersive portal can serve each employee personalized content that’s relevant to their role, almost like a social network for the enterprise. It can also allow employees to ask questions of an intelligent assistant so they don’t have to search multiple systems or send emails. Those customized, convenient features free employees to focus on their roles in growing the business.
Immersive training experiences. Immersive onboarding and training can benefit all employees by allowing them to experience their new roles in realistic simulations, refine specific skills, and develop new routines before they begin working. Learning new skills in a virtual setting can help new employees prepare for working with complex equipment or in busy settings without slowing down the company’s production processes. A common example is the use of headsets and augmented reality to teach autoworkers how to assemble complicated parts of automobiles without risking damage to costly components during their training.
However, other businesses can improve EX with virtual training, too. For example, baristas need to learn the steps for making dozens of coffee and tea drinks using a variety of machines and to follow safety practices while they work. Learning on the job can slow down other employees, negatively impact their experience, and create delays for customers as well. In a virtual environment, new hires can learn how to perfect their lattes and macchiatos without real spills, burns, or slowdowns.
Real-time, remote collaboration. When employees run into problems assembling products or using a piece of equipment, the result is downtime and stress. With AR headsets and streaming video, employees can check in with designers and engineers to walk through a problem and implement a solution much faster than waiting for an in-person visit or trying to solve the problem via email or a voice call. The result is more productive employees who are empowered to seek help when they have a problem.
As metaverse technologies roll out to support richer virtual engagements, employers may be able to host highly realistic immersive meetings and events that spark the same kind of emotional engagement employees would experience at an in-person gathering. That can create a stronger organizational culture and foster more collaboration and creativity even among fully remote teams.
Extended capabilities in the field. Repairing complex equipment can be a challenge, especially in bad weather or remote locations. Here, again, AR headsets and remote access to guidance can help employees diagnose problems and repair them much faster than if they had to page through a manual or search the web for the information they need as they work. That can allow field service employees to bring equipment back online faster, reduce callbacks for further repairs, and help employees be more productive.
All these immersive experiences can be a selling point for candidates because of the convenience and support they offer. For younger candidates especially, immersive technology is also appealing because it’s familiar—Gen Z members now in the early stages of their careers have grown up with screens and immersive experiences at home and at school.
Planning Immersive Employee Experiences
Immersive EX isn’t just about the technology. It’s about the entire employee journey—and there are many journeys an employee can have, such as onboarding, taking maternity leave, and earning promotions. Companies can start by mapping one of their employee journeys to find ways to elevate it, using simple design techniques to reduce friction.
It’s important to start small and move quickly, perhaps with onboarding or training, to test out ideas and identify the right technologies to leverage as part of an immersive experience. This limited initial approach enables organizations to get feedback from users and other stakeholders that they can use to refine the experience before formally launching and scaling it. Then, organizations can use that immersive employee experience to get buy-in for additional immersive EX programs.
As organizations' immersive employee experiences gain traction, they can become a selling point for talent acquisition and a tool for retaining existing talent. Great immersive EX can also generate word of mouth that attracts talent, as employees share how the immersive technology they work with improves their experiences. By starting small and gradually building useful, supportive experiences, organizations can give themselves an advantage in recruiting and retention.
Mike Buob is the vice president of experience and innovation at Sogeti, part of Capgemini. He has been with the Capgemini Group for more than 16 years, helping clients create impactful experiences for their customers. Alexandre Embry is the chief technology and information officer and global head of immersive technologies at Capgemini. He advises organizations on immersive technologies and their transformative powers.