Desperate for Workers, MGM Resorts Is Trying a New Hiring Tactic: VR

The resort operator will use VR headsets to show applicants what the job entails, including "difficult guest interactions."

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As the “Great Resignation” and anti-work movement continue to pick up steam, companies are struggling with record employee turnover. Customer service industries have been among the hardest hit, with many workers saying no thank you to the idea of handling Karens day in and day out during a pandemic. In a bid to curb employee attrition, MGM Resorts plans to use virtual reality to let applicants try out the roles before they make a decision, Insider reports.

In an interview with the outlet, chief human resources officer Laura Lee said MGM Resorts would be rolling out virtual reality headsets for customer-service roles at its employment centers and begin using VR as part of employee training. As such, job seekers could have the option of simulating front-of-house roles like operating casino games and checking guests into hotels during the hiring process. Career fairs are another avenue the company’s considering incorporating the immersive technology, potentially as soon as January, Lee said. It developed the VR module with Strivr, an enterprise VR training firm whose partners include other big names like Walmart and Verizon.

MGM Resorts has a workforce of roughly 83,000 employees across its portfolio of world-famous casinos such as the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In the past, Lee said the company used day-in-the-life videos and Q&As with current employees to help give applicants a sense of what the job entails, but those have inherent limitations.

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“It can be very difficult just to verbally explain the types of positions or show a video,” she told Insider, adding that virtual reality allows applicants to “throw a headset on and really experience the job.”

Particularly the role’s less rosy aspects. Workers in customer-facing roles such as hospitality, food service, and retail are quitting at higher rates than in other industries, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And while there are undoubtedly several contributing factors to this, surveys suggest that increasingly rude customers are a key reason why more and more workers are walking out.

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With this in mind, MGM Resorts’ VR module will cover “difficult guest interactions,” Lee said. She told Insider that she “absolutely” expected that some candidates would decide the role wasn’t for them after trying it out virtually. She speculated that if MGM Resorts had used VR as part of its hiring process ahead of 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.”

Like many places, MGM Resorts has struggled with understaffing, but the company’s chief financial officer said in a recent earnings call that labor availability has been improving each month during the third quarter. As for the retail industry as a whole, the Labor Department estimated that, ahead of the holiday season, the U.S. is short more than 200,000 retail jobs even as weekly jobless claims continue to hit record lows.