Bringing back the workforce and upleveling employee experience

An interview with Laura Lee,
CHRO, MGM Resorts International

It’s a great time for innovative organizations. Despite the ongoing challenges served up with COVID-19 and the “Great Resignation,” we have an opportunity to reflect and think about what we can do differently now to create a better onboarding and training experience for current employees and future applicants.

The hospitality industry got slammed by the recent workforce shift, but it has actually given MGM the chance to reevaluate everything we’re doing for employee experience to ensure it is providing real impact. My job — and my team’s job — is to support employees and give them the tools they need to be more successful and confident. There is a direct connection between these attributes and our company’s overarching goals.

At MGM, guest-centricity is a core initiative. Since consumers have many choices in hospitality, the key differentiator is often customer service. How we train employees on their mission-critical responsibilities around customer service always ties back to the bigger picture of company goals and guest experience. By creating a more hybrid learning experience that combines traditional learning with Virtual Reality-based learning, we are meeting the needs of today’s employees, and we expect significant returns at the business level.

With VR, we wanted to give our frontline workforce a way to practice interacting with customers in a safe, low-pressure environment. There are no do-overs in live customer service, but in VR simulations, our team members can get unlimited repetitions until they feel comfortable and confident. Virtual Reality training gives employees the opportunity to think and correct themselves without getting stressed or worried that they did something wrong. We also like how it enables practice for both process-oriented skills and interpersonal skills.

We don’t just want to succeed today; we want to build a game-changing Immersive Learning program for the future.

The immersive training program will be for both new and existing employees, which is crucial as resorts that were shuttered for months reopen globally. Not only are we hiring more new employees, but many returning employees need a refresher on general processes and policies. VR gives our team experiential learning, even as we span continents and cultures. It is standardized, scalable, and measurable, and there are plenty more opportunities outside of customer service where it can be extremely beneficial.

Because this is a new modality for us, feedback plays a valuable role: How can we know if the training is working unless there are channels for sharing feedback? Training is an ongoing process throughout the employee journey, so we find that there are many opportunities to gather employee feedback, including via focus groups and surveys. In addition, we plan to monitor guest service scores and immersive analytics to understand, assess, and improve the training program over time. We don’t just want to succeed today; we want to build a game-changing Immersive Learning program for the future as well.

In other words, our hybrid, VR-enabled learning model is a long-term vision we’ve already begun to achieve, and we’re keeping guest experience at the heart of it all.