As the Covid era continues, employers grapple with labor shortages in various industries. How can a company generate revenue, support its objectives, and reach success without enough workers?

One potential solution to these shortages is XR. The technology, including AR and VR, can offer powerful opportunities to automate customer interactions among other things. This can help alleviate the scarcity that sits at the heart of today’s labor shortages. But how and in what sectors?

The Great Resignation

Due to multiple contributing factors, the country is facing an employment crisis. Two major factors are the pandemic and a phenomenon known as the “Great Resignation.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there’s been an unprecedented number of Americans quitting their jobs voluntarily. In 2021, over 3.98 million employees quit their jobs each month.

At the same time, Statista estimates that over 23 million jobs will be enhanced by AR and VR technologies globally by 2030. Can these revolutionary technologies be used to combat the labor shortages burdening the American workforce? Here are five places primed to do so.

1. Healthcare

Healthcare facilities around the country face shortages – one primary reason being that health care workers are feeling depleted as the pandemic persists. However, XR tech can be used in many health care and medical applications. For example, VR is becoming widely used in therapy to treat phobias and PTSD and for pain management.

XR technologies can promote improved quality of patient care. In addition, XR allows doctors, surgeons, and other health care professionals to deliver better patient outcomes, such as the ability to see and manipulate a 3D version of a patient’s anatomy using minimally invasive means. Medical professionals can also check-in or remotely monitor patients using XR, allowing them to care for multiple patients simultaneously.

This is a clear solution for labor shortages. Leveraging XR tech will help health care providers meet changing patient needs.

Case Study: Medtronic Lessens Training Costs with AR

2. Construction

It’s no secret that the construction industry has vastly improved its processes over the last decade with the help of technology. One example of an XR use case in construction is to leverage XR tools to power training. Some construction tasks require entering potentially dangerous situations, as the industry relies on heavy machinery often.

For example, construction workers can use VR headsets for training purposes and enter a real-life simulated environment before climbing into construction machines. This ensures worker safety, combats labor shortage issues in the industry, and bridges skill gaps for employees.

3. Human Resources (HR)

It’s reported that 92 percent of human resources (HR) professionals believe VR and AR are of greater interest if used as a pandemic recovery tool. HR professionals can rely on XR to support learning and development initiatives in their organizations.

Additionally, HR pros who adopt XR may use it as a unique selling point to attract quality candidates. Recruitment efforts require more robust approaches, and XR can be used in various ways to improve processes for finding and retaining top talent.

5 Ways AR and VR Transform Safety Training

4. Food & Beverage

The food & beverage industry was one of the most impacted industries during the onset of the pandemic. Help wanted signs were spotted in restaurants and grocery stores around the country. Some companies use AR integrated into smartphone technology to improve their processes and make up for their labor shortages.

For example, Panera uses Snapchat’s AR filters to drive more customers to its restaurants. In another example, QR codes have become staples in the food industry in the age of social distancing and sanitation efforts brought on by the pandemic. AR-enhanced QR codes can provide diners with menus without passing menus between tables.

Case Study: Panera Drives ‘Craveability’ with AR

5. Retail

Creating a stellar customer experience (CX) would be virtually impossible without retail workers providing a human element in face-to-face interactions. However, XR can help retailers overcome labor shortages if used correctly.

When customers have questions about a product, it can take extra time for salespeople to answer those questions. With a small staff, this can cause problems for retailers, as they are not offering a satisfactory experience for their customers.

One company, Houzz – an online platform for home design and remodeling – leverages an AR feature that allows customers to cover their home’s floors with tile virtually. Customers can preview how designs look in their homes without entering a brick-and-mortar location.

For many industries, now is a pivotal moment when it comes to defining the future of work and ensuring labor shortages do not remain a constant challenge. Listed above are only some examples of XR use cases and how they positively impact industries facing labor shortages.

Houzz Taps Into AR’s ‘B2B2C’ Opportunity

XR to the Rescue

Because XR tech will continue to evolve in the coming years, companies increasingly utilize it to mitigate the negative impacts of labor shortages. No company wants to deal with challenges associated with relying on a short-staffed workforce. However, their best bet is to use the latest technologies to complement the existing workforce and overcome obstacles created by the Covid era and the great resignation.

April Miller is a senior writer at ReHack Magazine and editorial contributor at AR Insider. She specializes in VR/AR, IoT, and business technology. See her work here and follow her @rehackmagazine.

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