Advances in modern technology are redefining the way companies nurture their employees. From integrating virtual reality (VR) into employee training courses to using Artificial Intelligence (AI) for identifying and retaining talent, HR management is quickly evolving thanks to technological progress. However, a KPMG survey recently found that while two-thirds of HR executives agree that the field is experiencing a massive high-tech makeover, only 40 per cent have actually developed a digital work plan.
Industry executives who understand the strategic importance of HR are more likely to reap the benefits of digital transformation. Here’s how companies can put tech to work for their employees and aid their professional growth.
Virtual reality may be associated with gaming and gadgetry, but it’s increasingly being integrated in employee training and skill-building. Use cases include innovative situational training modules designed for both new hires and industry veterans, enabling employees at all levels to constantly hone their capabilities, using virtual scenarios to build real life skills.
Take public safety. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, for example, works with VirTra, a security scenario simulator, to train its 9,000 deputies. VirTra’s 300-degree training simulator comes equipped with over 150 different training scenarios, including active shooter pursuits, domestic violence calls, and hostage situations. Such systems equip police officers with the practice needed to achieve real-world expertise while minimising the risk of costly mistakes on the ground.
VR offers necessary practice in high-pressure scenarios in other fields as well. Silicon Valley-based STRIVR, for example, services large enterprises like Walmart, Verizon, and BMW. Wal-Mart store clerks, for instance, can rehearse stressful Black Friday scenarios to prepare for the holiday rush. Simply put, VR training programs provide employees with opportunities to practice and perfect their skill sets without the risk of costly mistakes during on-the-job training.
Consistent, comprehensive practice improves performance, acclimates employees to stressful settings, and minimises the risk of error.
Integrating AI in the HR industry serves not to eliminate human function, but rather to enhance human interaction. AI software can learn and recognise patterns in employee data, match candidates to the right roles, analyse employee performance, and identify opportunities for internal growth based on employees’ performance and skills within the organisation and throughout their professional history.
AI is also a powerful ally for employers seeking to better manage and retain current employees. AI technology can examine both company-wide and individual employee data to predict turnover risk, evaluate performance reviews, and upskill employees. Among AI’s biggest benefits is that it can identify opportunities for horizontal growth. This is the concept of employees being able to pursue a variety of stimulating, career-building experiences outside the traditional confines of their primary roles. The outcome is employees constantly honing their capabilities and gaining dynamic and diverse skill sets – a critical component of employee retention.
Unilever is one company already reaping the benefits of AI. The company’s new FLEX Program is centered around an AI-powered talent marketplace designed to help employees find part-time projects, internal career moves, and develop skill sets. A LinkedIn Learning report found that 94 per cent of employees are willing to remain at a company that invests in their career and AI-powered programs like FLEX aspire to increase engagement and satisfaction. Effectively, programs that develop employees’ skills for the future and connect them with internal mobility opportunities boost both employee retention and engagement. The use of AI is key in both the accuracy of these personalised opportunities for growth as well as the scale across large global companies.
Today’s most effective learning and development (L&D) programs combine technology with new methods of engagement to foster a more productive and enriching work environment.
One method has been to digitise L&D libraries to the Cloud to provide greater access to educational resources. For Example, Walgreens’ use of Cornerstone, a learning management system (LMS), aims to help employees grow as leaders by providing on-demand leadership training content that includes virtual training labs, guides, and toolkits. LMS systems are available to every employee, not just those at the managerial level, providing junior employees with the opportunity to easily grow – fueling a more engaging work environment.
Airbnb, too, aims to achieve improved employee leadership and skill sets (specifically around data fluency) with its use of Degreed, another cloud-based LMS. Designed to promote continual learning, Degreed gives Airbnb employees a personalised experience for individual learning. In the first year of Airbnb’s use of Degreed, more than 25,000 learning objects have been consumed by employees, enabling skill set hypergrowth.
With the market for HR technology set for accelerated growth over the coming years, organisations that invest in innovative solutions today will be best-positioned to attract, recruit, train, grow, and retain top talent. Virtual reality, Artificial Intelligence, and L&D programs are among the most effective pathways for enhancing employee growth. HR technology is undoubtedly a win-win for organisations and their employees.