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Virtual Reality Is The Future Of Onboarding

Virtual Reality Sep 16, 2020 5:30:00 PM Jamie Bykov-Brett 4 min read

Let's talk about Virtual Reality Onboarding/Pre-boarding.

In 2013 I was reading through Deloitte's Human Capital Trends Report. I remember vividly reading a prediction that said, "In seven years, half of your workforce will be working elsewhere". I found that difficult to imagine. At that time my only experience of remote working had been using a tablet that was too slow to load my calendar and was so unreliable I would resort to pen and paper until I could get back to the office. That was fine for the time and for very simple data entry, but if my experience of remote work in 2013 was reprehensive of the future of remote work, I would have heavily betted against Deloitte's prediction. Yet, we have all come to realise how spookily accurate the 2013 Deloitte Report would become at the beginning of 2020. We saw how ill-prepared a large percentage of organisations were to become reliant on a remote workforce.

After seven months in lockdown, many organisations are beginning to start workforce planning and reviewing their internal processes. While many may be considering redundancies, others will be looking to recruit the talent they need for the future. This will inevitably involve evolving Onboarding processes to accommodate a remote workforce.

Even before the Covid pandemic, only 12% of employees strongly agreed that their organisation does a great job Onboarding (Gallup) almost a third of new hires start job searching within the first six months of starting in a role (Harver), and it is estimated that the average cost in the UK for a new hire is £3,000 before they even walk through the door (Workplaceon). With all this information to hand, you would probably assume that all organisations must consider Onboarding as an essential aspect of the employee life cycle, right? The sad reality is that many organisations don't even have a formal Onboarding process and many that don’t have a good one. Good Onboarding sets an employee up to succeed but often this process has to contend with stretched managers who might see it as a waste of time or something they need to circumvent in order to get their employee straight into the action. The damage this does to reputation, trust and the bottom line is staggering.

So, what does the future of Onboarding look like when most current processes are reliant on the new hire and staff being at a physical location? If you ask me, I think the answer is Virtual Reality Pre-Boarding.

Let me help you imagine the experience.

Your organisation is hiring new a new employee and...

  • They are one of the 81% of new hires who want to receive details about their new role at the pre-boarding stage (Tydy)
  • They work remotely.
  • They can't go to the office for a duration of time because of COVID, accessibility or prior arrangements.

Now, imagine this employee's Pre-boarding experience.

Prior to their first day, the employee gets sent a Virtual Reality Headset with your organisation's Onboarding package pre-loaded. It allows the new hire to virtually tour their new office, they can access a heap of the orientation training that has been pre-recorded (360-degree video), they can also complete introductory paperwork digitally all before walking through the front door. They could even 'meet' the CEO/President and the senior management team in a virtual meeting.

This could lead to large amounts of the Onboarding process being digitised and automated which means you are able to focus more time, resources and energy on the parts of the process that aren't.

Imagine how many staff hours you could reclaim that are normally spent on the onboarding that would instead be delivered before someone has walked through your organisation’s doors.

It's comparatively cheap and not overly time-intensive to set up. Let's put the cost into perspective when compared to the organisational cost of...

  • Turnover from staff that have had a poor onboarding experience.
  • Staff hours spent delivering orientation training.
  • Cost of re-recruiting staff who accept an offer but don't start at the organisation.

What's the business case?

  • Many onboarding tasks can usually be accomplished during the pre-boarding process.
  • The goal is to make your new employee feel engaged, introduce them to the company culture and reduce any uncertainty so they feel excited and ready when they come in for day one.
  • The cost of poor onboarding has a huge impact on your bottom line. Companies that leave onboarding to chance experience rates of 50% when it comes to retaining new talent. (Criterion)
  • Your pre-boarding process has a massive impact on the level of loyalty the new employee feels towards your company. With the right communication and outreach, you can generate rapport with new hires from the get-go.
  • Pre-boarding supports employees to hit the ground running.
  • A great onboarding programme can increase staff retention rates by as much as 82% (Glassdoor)
  • Employees that are engaged prior to their first day are much more likely to actually start at the organisation, saving thousands on re-recruitment costs.
  • The growing trend of remote working compacted with COVID-19 response means that it is more common that an employee will not physically go to the office on the first day. Pre-boarding supports the employee to transition to their new workplace and feel part of the organisation they are joining.
  • According to an Aberdeen Group study, Companies with a pre-boarding process in place are 11% more likely to retain their first-year employees than those without.

So, why am I telling you this?

I have years of experience developing regional and global Onboarding processes for a global philanthropic organisation as well as being a Virtual Reality developer. I'm looking for an individual/an organisation who might be interested in my business, MetaHub, building a VR Pre-boarding package. I want to use the proof of concept to reach out to other organisations to demonstrate the potential of implementing VR Pre-boarding in their organisation.

Sound interesting? Want to discuss further? Please contact virtual.assistant@metahub.uk to connect.

Jamie Bykov-Brett

Listed as one of Engatica's World's Top 200 Business & Technology Innovators Jamie is a Social Entrepreneur, Digital Innovation Specialist, Metaverse & Web3 Advisor, Workshop Facilitator & Futurist Educator. His niche is developing people, implementing innovative technology solutions and the fundamental intersection where that expertise meets.