HR Should Be the Catalyst for Metaverse Development

The Metaverse — immersive 3D digital worlds based on virtual reality gaming experiences — will play a major role in the future of work. 

HR, as the function responsible for hiring, developing and retaining the talent needed for their organizations to succeed in an uncertain future, should take the lead.

While the technology behind Metaverses is complex and not HR’s primary skill set, HR must be the catalyst because the Metaverse has the potential to create more realistic, immersive and personalized digital experiences for the workforce, including more compelling learning, hiring and collaboration experiences.

HR organizations that invest the time and money to understand — and start pursuing — the potential for the Metaverse and partner across the enterprise will be prepared to hire, develop and retain the talent they need to succeed in the future of work. 

The HR function should be on the cutting edge of technology innovation and transformation by having a vision of its future and a tolerance for the ambiguity, uncertainty, and change that the Metaverse will cause. Sure, it could still be years away, but HR can’t afford to lag as many organizations did during the rapid evolution of HR technology over the last decade. HR leaders who shy away from the Metaverse will remorsefully operate in worlds defined by others.

While Brandon Hall Group research shows that only about one-third of organizations are using or exploring the universe now or plan to within the next year, almost two-thirds believe the Metaverse has great potential and preparations should start now. Here are potential benefits cited:

Progressive companies are already seizing the potential and are leveraging VR technology for training. For example:

  • Bank of America is bringing VR training to 50,000 employees across nearly 4,200 financial centers.
  • MGM Resorts initially trained 450 frontline employees across several resort locations as they were brought back to the workplace. 
  • Verizon was one of the first global enterprises to embrace VR for learning when it unveiled a store robbery VR experience in 2018, earning a Gold Brandon Hall Group Excellence Award.

Even in industries where you would not expect the Metaverse to be top of mind, innovative thought leaders are getting busy.

At JLL, a global commercial real estate company, the Human-Centric Innovation Team (HCIT) is working to understand the potential role of the Metaverse in improving the wellbeing and resilience of employees and clients. Daniel Poulin, the wellbeing product lead for the HCIT, believes the Metaverse could have a profound impact on how people present themselves. 

“When people create an avatar, colleagues see those people as they see themselves, rather than just from their own point of view,” Poulin said. “That is enlightening. People may be willing to suggest ideas or participate in new ways with their avatar than they would be in person. It could create a new level of communication that can change meeting dynamics and lead to new levels of innovation.”

In the months ahead, JLL will explore other benefits of the Metaverse. HR leaders across all industries should also take the lead.  Here are ideas on how to do it:

Take Ownership of HCM Technology 

Only 24% of organizations have advanced HR technology that will better address the needs of their workforce to meet business objectives in some or all areas of the organization, according to Brandon Hall Group’s most recent human capital management technology study.

HR leaders must embrace technology and get up to speed — quickly — because the next version of the internet will make the first two versions look like child’s play. HR can’t assume the enterprise leadership role it seeks — and needs to have — without embracing the future of technology.

Develop ‘Platform Vision’ 

Organizations will need to hire Metaverse ecosystem architects, with knowledge in deep technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, computer vision, data analytics and high-speed networks, to lead their digital transformation program. 

HR leaders must also develop platform vision – not to the extent required of tech leaders – but at a level where they understand the technology and can pursue the future with knowledge, appreciation and vision. HR leaders must understand the Metaverse and how it can help them with hiring, learning, collaboration, career development and other disciplines.

Form Cross-Functional Exploratory Teams 

HR leaders, and digital leaders within the function, must work with IT and business leaders to design the Metaverse experience. It would be great to see people from talent management, technology, compliance, learning, leadership development and other disciplines work together to build their technology acumen and create bold ideas to revolutionize the employee experience.

These exploratory teams should also include employees outside of HR and business leaders – the potential end-users. Get the digital natives to help you understand and become comfortable with the technology. Spread the word across the organization that you have a future vision and want everyone’s help to develop it.

Develop Pilot Projects

HCM should not only work across the organization to gain a deeper understanding of the Metaverse, but drive one or more small projects to get started. A pilot might take months — even years — to develop, but building a coalition of advocates and inclusively developing ideas and plans will move the organization forward and put HR at the forefront, where it belongs.

-Claude Werder, Senior VP and Principal HCM Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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