MGM Resorts is letting job seekers try out roles using virtual reality as it looks to reduce employee churn
MGM Resorts is giving job applicants the chance to try out roles using virtual reality in the hope it will reduce employee attrition.
By using a VR headset, the company — whose portfolio includes world-famous casinos such as the Bellagio and MGM Grand in Las Vegas — hopes that job seekers will be able to see whether the role is what they expected.
“It can be very difficult just to verbally explain the types of positions or show a video,” Laura Lee, MGM Resorts’ chief HR officer, told Insider. With the VR experience, applicants can “throw a headset on and really experience the job,” she added.
Amid a nationwide labor shortage, employers are having to work harder to attract and retain new hires. Many companies have recruited staff only to see them hand in their notice a short while later, after the job didn’t match their expectations. In the hospitality industry, record numbers of workers have quit their jobs.
Lee said that the company is using the immersive technology to help reduce turnover. She said it would be rolling out the headsets for customer-service roles at its employment centers, and potentially at career fairs, from January, as well as using them for training.
Lee said that, in the past, MGM Resorts had used day-in-the-life videos and chats with current employees to give applicants an insight into roles, but nothing like this.
Some hospitality staff have complained that customers have gotten ruder during the pandemic. To prepare potential joiners for such scenarios, Lee said MGM Resorts’ VR module would include “difficult guest interactions.”
Lee said she “absolutely” expected that some candidates, after trying out a role using VR, would decide it wasn’t right for them.
Sometimes candidates accept jobs without realizing how difficult they may be, she said. She added that, had MGM Resorts used the technology at recent casino openings, it “might’ve resolved some turnover we experienced when people accepted positions and then realized it wasn’t quite what they thought it would be.”
Lee said the VR would be especially useful with MGM Resorts’ upcoming expansion into Japan. The country currently doesn’t have any casinos – MGM Resorts’ $9 billion casino in Osaka is due to be the first — meaning potential employees may be unfamiliar with what those types of jobs entail.
The VR would be optional for job seekers to try out, Lee added, and wouldn’t be used for office-based roles. The company would use the technology for front-of-house roles, like operating casino games and checking guests into hotels.
MGM Resorts developed the package with VR-firm Strivr, which also works with Walmart, Bank of America, Verizon, and FedEx.
As well as providing job previews and training, some companies are using Strivr to assess workers’ abilities. Walmart, for example, used Strivr VR headsets to see whether employees should be promoted to middle-management positions.
Strivr CEO Derek Belch said the data gathered from using VR “can be very powerful for both the employee, as part of their candidacy for a role, as well as for the employer to make better data-driven decisions.”
MGM’s staffing levels are recovering
MGM Resorts said in its 2020 annual report that it had frozen hiring, furloughed staff, cancelled merit pay increases, and undertaken “headcount reductions” to minimize cash outflows during the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Lee said that MGM Resorts was experiencing understaffing in some areas, but that the majority of employees it had laid off during the pandemic had returned. At its third-quarter earnings call, the company’s CFO said labor availability had been improving each month.