Escape Rooms and Recruiting Have a Lot More in Common Than You Think

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Remember the ’90s horror hit, The Blair Witch Project, which shocked audiences with its groundbreaking found-footage style? More than 20 years after its release, audiences are going to be able to step inside the house where it all took place — except it will be happening just steps off the Las Vegas Strip.

Immersive experiences are a hit in the entertainment world, whether it be the upcoming Blair Witch experience, a Rugrats escape room, or the nationwide Immersive Van Gogh  exhibition that has taken over social media worldwide.

What does this have to do with recruitment?

Well, recruitment and immersive experiences are both all about standing out from the crowd and making people feel some sort of connection to the environment — and to each other.

That’s why companies are jumping into immersive experiences, too. Instead of sending out a PowerPoint on the latest workplace safety updates, for example, companies are creating immersive experiences that teach best safety practices while providing a team-building experience in the process. And it works: Games can be powerful ways of building connections between people. 

Immersive experiences in the corporate setting are an opportunity to build stronger bonds between teams members and a company culture that acts as a recruitment engine. Here’s how to use immersive experiences to drive your culture-driven recruitment and long-term retention strategies

Immersive Experiences Build Bonds Naturally

In the global virtual workplace, many coworkers never get a chance to interact outside a Slack channel or Zoom meeting. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to build bonds between coworkers through these channels unless everyone happens to be very outgoing.

Office bonds are usually formed at the literal watercooler or during the quiet times of company functions like day-long conferences and workplace training days. To help recreate those moments of social interaction for remote employees, companies are turning to immersive experiences that put coworkers together in virtual settings that naturally promote interaction that leads to bonds.

At Emeraude Escape, we’ve helped a few companies build custom immersive games for this purpose. For example, we worked with an international chemical company to create a multiplayer immersive escape room that is, in reality, a training platform on workplace dangers. Players are grouped in teams (we found the best size is a maximum of six people per team) and go room to room solving puzzles while learning best practices for the real-world workplace. Each player’s video streams live during the immersive game, and players are forced to talk to each other “face to face” to solve the puzzles.

This type of interaction plays on the IKEA effect, which states that people care more about things when they’re actively involved in building them. So, when employees are actively involved in team-building, they care more about their teams. It sounds obvious because it is.

Immersive Games Build Company Culture

Building company culture remotely isn’t easy, but it’s more important than ever to keep employees feeling connected when their team members are distributed around the world. Companies must build virtual environments that align with their values while showing workers that they are investing in them in ways that are actually enjoyable.

Employees don’t want Zoom happy hours. They hate Zoom events. In fact, when Emeraude Escape surveyed more than 1,000 newly remote workers during the pandemic, 54 percent of workers said they had participated in a virtual happy hour with their coworkers as a team-building exercise — and only 25 percent of those workers said they would prefer that type of event in the future.

No one wants to attend another Zoom conference. What do they want instead? That same survey found that 70 percent of employees would be excited to play competitive virtual games with their colleagues as a means of building company culture.

Friendship Leads to Better Retention

The connection between immersive experiences and employee retention is actually more direct than you might think. Games can be a strong foundation for bonds between people, as we mentioned earlier. When incorporated into the workplace on a somewhat consistent basis, games can build bonds between team members. And once employees form those bonds with their coworkers, they are less likely to leave for greener pastures — even if offered more money!

In another survey we conducted, 66 percent of remote employees said their relationships with their colleagues were among the top factors in their decision to stay with or leave a company.

Immersive experience technology is booming across all sectors, and it’s fantastic to see companies adopting it to improve their workplaces. The end results are better retention and happier employees who feel more connected to their companies.

Virgile Loisance is the CEO of Emeraude Escape.

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By Virgile Loisance