ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Job applicants at MGM Resorts get to try out a day on the job before they’re hired, thanks to virtual reality, reports Business Insider. The company’s goal in using the technology is to reduce employee turnover.
Potential employees wear a virtual reality headset and try out different roles in the company.
"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.”
Previously, MGM used “day-in-the-life” videos and chats with current employees, but this is its first foray into the virtual reality world. Headsets will be available for customer-service roles at its employment centers and potentially at career fairs, and they will be used for training.
With MGM opening its first casino in Japan—the first casino for the country—potential workers there may not know what it’s like to work at a casino, and Lee said this will be helpful in giving them an in-depth feel for jobs.
Circle K Europe is one convenience retailer using gamification to enhance employee training and engagement. Circle K’s gamified training program, dubbed CK Star, includes a series of “episodes” that engage store associates in different on-the-job scenarios, NACS Magazine writes in the October 2021 cover story, “Ahead of the Game.” Employees earn points by completing each episode. It’s about immersing users in real-life, store associate-level situations.
In what is being described as “The Great Resignation,” Americans are leaving their jobs in droves, and employees younger than 35 are leading the way. The hospitality industry has been especially hard hit with labor shortages. November’s Labor Department job numbers found the leisure and hospitality industry to have an unemployment rate of 7.5%, compared to the overall unemployment rate fell of 4.2%.
Many unemployed Americans are not eager to rejoin the workforce with 53% of Americans who became unemployed during the pandemic said they were only somewhat active or not very active at all in looking for work. Additionally, 56% said they continue to be unemployed for more than six months before it becomes essential to return to full-time work. Eleven percent said it will be more than a year before it is necessary to return to work, and 15% said it will never be essential.
Convenience retailers are increasing their minimum wages to stay competitive. Rutter’s raised its minimum wage to $16 an hour, and Sheetz also raised its starting pay this year. Some 7-Eleven locations are currently offering $500 new hire bonuses, and select GPM Investments c-stores are offering $2,500 sign-on bonuses.
Other retailers also pay above the minimum wage to attract talent in a tight labor market. Hobby Lobby has raised its starting pay to $18.50 an hour. Walmart pays on average $16.40 in the U.S. Target’s minimum wage is $15 an hour, and it is paying its team members an extra $2 an hour if they work during select days during the holiday season. Starbucks also announced it will raise wages at least twice next year, which would bring its starting pay to $15 an hour by next summer and its average pay to $17.
To help convenience retailers attract and retain top-notch people, NACS partnered with the nonprofit Good Jobs Institute in January 2020 to bring the Good Jobs Strategy to the industry.
A recent NACS webinar explored how retailers can attract and hire team members today and in the future. From virtual hiring to job shadowing, retailers are employing a host of ways to find and connect with potential workers.
Look for “Understanding Your Local Labor Landscape” in the just-published December issue of NACS Magazine for tips on building an effective employee value proposition and how to gain an edge when competing for candidates.