How might technologies such as virtual reality (VR) help businesses become more empathetic to the needs of their employees? This question has taken on more urgency as businesses react to a massive voluntary exodus from the workforce known as the Great Resignation.

The News

Throughout 2021, businesses have seen a dramatic surge in workers either leaving for other employment opportunities or quitting their jobs outright. Businesses are now grappling with a talent shortage across all professions and positions, ranging from white collar jobs to front-line retail jobs. The sheer numbers of people leaving their jobs has caught many employers off guard.

As companies dig into the reasons for the surge in resignations, they’re uncovering a wide range of issues at play. For example, many white-collar professionals have re-evaluated the purpose of their jobs now that they have endured a period of global disruption triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many others have expressed dissatisfaction with their employers for not adequately addressing their emotional needs during the pandemic. For example, a number of employees are reluctant to return to a physical location (whether an office or a retail store front) for health and safety reasons.

Why the News Matters

For those reasons, employee empathy has become an increasingly pressing issue among businesses. According to a recently published LinkedIn special report, empathy is one of the most important issues shaping the future of employee recruitment. LinkedIn says that successful businesses “will be more empathetic in their outreach, accommodating in their approach, and understanding of what candidates are going through.” LinkedIn also notes that successful employers will master the art of using digital to attract people.

So, can companies use digital technologies to become empathetic to the needs of their employees? This is a reasonable question. After all, businesses are already using virtual reality (VR) to train employees to learn skills and to become more effective communicators by simulating real-world work scenarios.

The answer is, “Yes!” In fact, businesses are using VR already to train executives to become better communicators and managers by putting them in the shoes of employees. A recently published article in The Next Web relates the example of an immersive experience that shows employees, including senior managers, the impact of exclusionary behavior. Of course, being more inclusive is a critical challenge all businesses face. VR can help them embrace more inclusive ways of working by putting them in the shoes of people of different backgrounds.

Teaching empathy requires businesses to manage many different moving parts, and it’s not always easy to understand how to get started. One of the questions businesses struggle with is where to get started. That’s because empathy is a wide-ranging issue that spans business problems ranging from a more general “How might we be more inclusive?” to more specific “How might we address the needs of employees with accessibility issues?” or “How might we make new employees feel more included and valued when they are not working face to face?”

Tools such as design sprints can help. A design sprint consist of four-day test-and-learn process in which a team identifies a business problem with no clear-cut and easy solution and develops a prototype for a solution. The design sprint involves real customers as part of the vetting process. Moonshot relies on design sprints all the time as part of our FUEL methodology for unlocking innovation. We believe that starting with a design sprint is a crucial step toward embracing empathy.

Contact Moonshot

To learn how Moonshot might help your business adopt employee empathy through virtual reality, contact Moonshot.