Virtual human resources, also known as virtual HR, is a way of connecting employees with the HR services they need through technology.
Rather than having to schedule a time to speak with an HR professional at the company, workers can take care of some tasks themselves using an online self-service program. This can include accessing benefits, reporting an injury or insurance claim, and looking up an employee handbook.
Virtual HR takes many different forms. At some companies, it may mean employees have access to an HR platform where they can download and submit forms or ask questions. At other organizations, HR is outsourced to a virtual team.
In those cases, workers may be able to access some services themselves, but they can also contact artificial intelligence (AI) HR chatbots or remote HR professionals through chat, email, or video call.
The latest virtual HR even includes virtual reality (VR) or the Metaverse. Some companies are using VR headsets to immerse new employees in training or onboarding, for example, within a 3D environment.
Ultimately, you can choose what and how much tech to use and what kind of virtual experiences to offer. Read on to find out more about virtual HR and how to implement it in your organization.
What Can Virtual HR Do?
Virtual HR can take care of many services usually handled by an HR team or individual, including:
- Onboarding and training new workers
- Maintaining and managing employee records
- Offboarding and exit interviews
- Gathering and reporting information about employee performance
- Maintaining timesheets and time records
- Sharing and storing employee handbooks and other resources
- Organizing payroll
- Updating and sharing company policies
- Managing employee complaints
- Offering and managing employee benefits
What Are the Benefits of Virtual HR?
Compared with strictly in-person HR services, virtual HR has several benefits:
- Empowering employees. Virtual HR resources stored on the cloud can be accessed 24/7. While virtual HR professionals may still have regular office hours, online HR services enable your workers to access many answers and resources themselves.
- Saving time. Since common questions can be answered through HR self-service platforms, your in-house HR professionals have more time for payroll and other important tasks.
- Improving employee satisfaction and productivity. When workers can often find their own answers or reach a virtual HR person on their own time, they’ll be more productive. Workers may not need to wait long to get the information they need, which can make them feel more satisfied at work.
- Saving money. Virtual HR enables you to reduce the overhead costs involved in hiring in-house HR professionals while still offering quality services.
- Remote work suitability. If you have deskless or remote workers, virtual HR communication is ideal. In-house HR solutions require in-person communication, but with virtual HR they can speak with HR from any location.
- Greater efficiency. Virtual HR systems can store thousands of HR files and documents. These can be labeled and searchable in seconds, so you and your employees will spend less time looking for what you need.
- Scalability. Virtual HR solutions can be adjusted easily to changes at your company. If you use a virtual HR service and suddenly need to open a new location or hire a new team, for example, you can be temporarily allocated more HR assistants.
If you have many new employees joining your team, all new hires can train on their own time on a self-serve platform. You don’t have to hire more HR team members to handle the influx.
Successfully Using Virtual HR at Your Organization
Using virtual HR isn’t as simple as just buying new tech. Whether you need to streamline the work of your HR team or want an entirely outsourced virtual HR service, take these steps first to implement virtual HR successfully.
Discuss with your team first
First, determine whether virtual HR is right for your organization. Discuss your organization’s needs with other managers and consider what problems it could solve. For example:
- Do we have deskless or remote employees who’d benefit from accessing HR from anywhere?
- Is our business growing and do we need a scalable HR solution?
- Do we work outside of normal business hours, where it would be useful to allow employees to access some HR services themselves?
- Do we get many questions about employee benefits and other issues that virtual HR could handle more effectively?
- Could we save money by switching to virtual HR and hiring fewer full-time employees?
- Could we keep our current HR team smaller and more efficient by allowing workers some HR self-service options?
Answering “yes” to any of these suggests virtual HR could help your organization. You can also use Connecteam surveys to seek valuable input from your workers about their needs. You may find they’re eager to access HR themselves, on their own time.
Choose the right options
Virtual HR is not a one-size-fits-all solution and can be adapted to meet your team’s needs.
You may want a self-service platform to allow workers to access benefits information and make claims, for example, and everything else the same with your HR team. Or, you may decide to outsource your entire HR department. Here are a few choices to consider:
- VR training and onboarding. A study by PwC found that employees train four times faster with VR than in-classroom learning and report an incredible 275% higher confidence that they can apply their training to their work.
- Online document management. One of the easiest ways to start with virtual HR is to allow workers to access documents and forms they need via a platform like Connecteam’s knowledge base. This step alone can streamline HR services.
- Virtual HR services for remote and new teams. If much or all of your team is deskless or remote, a virtual HR team makes sense. All communication will be digital, which remote workers are used to, and your team won’t have to come into the office to speak with in-house HR.
- AI-enabled tech. AI can power chatbots, interview scheduling, onboarding, and other simple, repetitive HR tasks. AI can also answer basic questions employees have, such as how to request time off.
When weighing up your options, look for the most practical, intuitive, and easy-to-use solutions.
Connecteam’s all-in-one employee app lets you train and onboard new hires, quiz employees on what they have learned, store and share HR documents and forms, reward workers, communicate with teams, and more. It’s an easy-to-understand platform that puts many of your HR services into your employees’ hands.
Train your employees
Whether you’re outsourcing your HR services to a virtual provider or launching a self-service online platform for HR questions, make sure your employees know what’s going on. Train them in how to use your HR resources effectively. Make sure everyone understands where they can turn for specific questions.
Provide a human element
One of the potential drawbacks to virtual HR is that it can feel impersonal compared with speaking face-to-face with an HR professional. However, you can reap the benefits of virtual HR and create a more personable experience for your team by mixing human and virtual elements.
For example, if you switch to virtual training and onboarding, consider pairing new team members with an onboarding buddy. You might offer a self-service solution to let workers change or sign up for benefits. To complement that, you could encourage workers to chat with an HR person one-on-one if they have more in-depth questions.
There are also some things you’ll always want to handle in person rather than virtually—for example, if you need to fire or discipline a worker. This creates a human connection and allows you to answer any questions your employee has and guide them through the situation.
Security breaches are always a risk. If you’re storing HR documents containing personal employee information online or entrusting this information to an outsourced firm, consider data safety.
Prioritize an HR service or platform with encryption, which will make it harder for fraudsters to intercept your data.
You can also stay safer by updating your software or apps, since newer versions may contain security upgrades and bug fixes. Finally, teach your team to use secure passwords and to secure their own devices to protect their data.
Making Your HR Services Virtual
Virtual HR doesn’t just allow you to use cool new tech. It also can save you time and money while improving employee satisfaction and productivity. Depending on your needs, you might offer VR office tours, virtual candidate interviews, self-service options, or outsource all your HR services.
Selecting the right virtual HR options is only the first step, though. Training your team is crucial to ensure they know how to use the new tech correctly. Keep security in mind and consider warming up your virtual approach with some human elements to create a balanced, effective approach to human resources.
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