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The metaverse: A new frontier in talent engagement

Sudhir Pai
17 Jun 2022

With attrition rates across industries peaking now, it is only logical to expect enterprises to start testing the waters with metaverse use cases around talent engagement.

Companies are on a war footing to attract and retain top talent, and in such a scenario, the metaverse serves as a key enabler to not just build a company’s brand but also build an engaged and productive workforce. Given the wide array of opportunities that metaverse technology offers, there are implications for the entire employee life cycle of attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development and retention.

Attraction: Metaverse Brand

Gen Z ers are gradually overtaking the workforce. These young people are in high demand as they are perceived to be more hardworking, which is an asset to employers. However, their unique characteristics make employers concerned about recruiting, retaining and training them.

Our company recently hosted a Metaverse Career Fair for students of five universities in the U.S. The event provided 2D access to an arena where avatars could explore job opportunities and interact with different elements on the platform. The “Hired in the Metaverse” event, hosted by Hirect, allowed candidates to experience the event in 3D by leveraging Oculus Quest 2 headsets.

Another avenue for leveraging the virtual world is career sites and job descriptions (JDs). The JDs have evolved from text-based documents to picture-based ones to videos. The next logical step in this evolution is 3D experiences that comprehensively showcase the “day in the life” of a typical employee.

Recruitment: Effective Alternative

The metaverse provides an efficient solution to bring the best of both physical and virtual approaches together. Interviews conducted on the metaverse enable recruiters to accurately assess the behavior of a candidate while saving a significant proportion of the cost associated with a normal recruitment process.

Samsung uses Gather Town. Indian startup Incluszon claims to be building a platform that enables interviewers to gauge the candidate’s confidence levels. Microsoft’s Mesh platform will overlay 2D videos with 3D rooms. The platform is expected to evolve from avatar-based interviews to VR/AR/MR-enabled ones with real faces in virtual settings.

A major impediment to this model, however, is the availability of hardware at the candidate site. One possible solution is to leverage the age-old concept of interview centers spread across a particular region, the only difference being that instead of a phone/desktop these will be equipped with metaverse parlors.

Onboarding: Welcoming, The New Way

Arguably, the most mundane part of any onboarding process is the scores of PDFs the new joiner must go through to get accustomed to the ways of the organization. This results in people skipping this strenuous act altogether or grudging their way through it—both defeating the purpose of onboarding.

If these PDFs were to be replaced with experiences where employees can walk around their future office, meet and greet their colleagues, and undergo interactive orientation classes, the results would be immediately perceivable.

Hyundai Mobis leveraged ZEPETO to design its new employee experience in the metaverse. The company paired this with an “untact online trip” where new employees chose from a host of European cities and enjoyed a two-hour online trip via YouTube Live. While not strictly related to the metaverse, the employee feedback was significantly positive, suggesting a possible application of metaverse in this realm. The growing trend of using third-party platforms suggests the need to clearly set boundaries in how employee data is captured, processed and saved on the metaverse.

Development: Play To Learn

The metaverse provides an opportunity for financial institutions to upskill/cross-skill their workforce through simulations in the virtual world. Partnering with specialists in “metaverse learning,” companies can introduce elements of gamification that engage the employee better, thereby reducing the time required to learn/develop new skills. Digital coaches, powered by AI/ML, can be used to assist and guide employees through the process, helping save human effort.

There is extensive research to support the claim that virtual world training, as opposed to classroom-based training, has significant advantages (learning by doing, safe place for differently abled employees, visual stimulation, etc.). Another advantage of the metaverse in learning and development is that it essentially works as a social platform. Employees can engage in simulations as a group and interact with one another during the training. This enables them to stay connected and build interpersonal relationships through personalized avatars.

Retention: Engagement Like Never Before

Keeping the employees engaged has been a challenge for companies during the pandemic. The metaverse can be an effective solution to this problem. Meta launched Horizon Workrooms in August last year as a collaboration platform. The platform enables employees to work together using avatars. It works both on VR as well as on the web and boasts features like mixed-reality desk and keyboard tracking, hand tracking, remote desktop streaming, video conferencing integration and spatial audio.

AI-powered avatars can be programmed to take up repetitive tasks, freeing up human effort for the more complex tasks. Such avatars can mimic human behavior with great precision. Another important avenue for metaverse application is rewards and recognition. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) can be a great avenue for employers to recognize employee performance. Showcasing NFTs through employee marketplaces and monetizing can go a long way to drive employee retention.

Closing Remarks

While opportunities are aplenty, it is important that we do not put the cart in front of the horse. Although we have not delved into them in detail, there are numerous challenges that the metaverse as a technology must overcome before its scaled adoption can be realized across the use cases mentioned above. These relate to hardware requirements, data privacy, regulation and general reluctance in working with a new technology. Hence, it is critical that metaverse use cases are tackled in a phase-by-phase manner.

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