This article first appeared in RecruitingDaily on September 21, 2020, written by Derek Belch, Strivr Founder & CEO. Read the full article here.
Effective employee training is as critical as it’s ever been for corporations of all sizes. Yet today, it has become increasingly challenging for a myriad of reasons. Companies continue to need to quickly and efficiently train frontline workers but are faced with new COVID-related health and safety risks and procedures.
At the same time, the rise of remote office work is creating new onboarding challenges for companies looking to maintain a sense of workplace culture. Even amongst physically dispersed teams.
Meanwhile, with social distancing and new health guidelines in place, traditional learning methods that rely on physical modes like in-person classes and role-playing are more difficult (if not impossible) to conduct.
Although e-learning solutions like online webinars and video seminars might appear to be the obvious answer, they lack critical elements for effective long-term learning.
Because of this, more companies are turning to virtual reality (VR). A proven and effective method of training that offers the flexibility of e-learning, the interactivity of in-person classes, and a more immersive, data-driven learning experience for employees.
How VR training works
A lot of traditional training methods utilize passive learning techniques like reading through handbooks, watching videos, or clicking through presentations. While this type of training may give employees basic vocabulary and knowledge, it doesn’t actually familiarize them with new skills. Furthermore, these mediums are very “passive” forms of learning. Versus “active” learning that can help simulate what the real-world job will actually be like for an employee.
Virtual Reality-based Immersive Learning, on the other hand, allows employees to practice and execute new skills in real-world situations. New hires can simply put on a VR headset and practice their new role over and over again, with immediate feedback on how they did and no negative consequences if they make a mistake.
For example, retail workers can practice de-escalating a difficult conversation with customers in a virtual replica of a store and see how their decisions and actions unfold from a first-person perspective. No matter the topic being presented to the employee, Immersive Learning affords the learner a “flight-simulator-like” experience. Such that they can engage in a more “active”, learning-by-doing experience.
Not only does Immersive Learning make the individual training experience more potent, but it also allows companies with employees spread across different cities or states to deliver the same training. Regardless of location.
Immersive Learning has also been shown to help save on training costs and time. Not only have studies shown that employees are more engaged and retain more information from Immersive Learning. But VR modules can also improve efficiency to such a degree that an hour of training can be cut down to just ten minutes.
Shaping first impressions
Using VR technology as part of the onboarding process can also help create a better employee experience and more excitement for the organization. Since VR is an emerging technology, it provides a ‘wow’ factor for many people who have never used headsets before and can help showcase a company’s innovativeness.
VR training can provide a scalable solution by creating immersive and interactive scenarios to instill company values and work mentalities. For example, retail workers have used VR to learn how the value of “customer first” is exemplified by practicing conversations with customers in a virtual store.
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This not only helps employees better align and understand their company but also gives them practical skills to bring these values to life.
Create lasting impact
The next generation of employees value L&D (learning and development) heavily, with 58% saying they are more likely to switch jobs for better learning opportunities or better work/life balance. Rather than higher pay.
Immersive Learning is not only a tool for new workers but also has a lasting impact on L&D programs. It works to collect insights on how employees are performing over time. This helps guide managers to offer more individualized advice and improvement plans.
Data can be collected through different methods such as eye-tracking and head tracking, which can show where employees are focusing in a certain situation. Voice recordings can also help trainees and managers identify mistakes and areas for improvement.
While the data can be used to improve feedback, it can also be used to help a company identify problematic areas or complicated procedures that need changing. VR-training can be repeated indefinitely while retaining its usefulness through collecting individual data. So, the end result is not only higher engagement, preparedness, and knowledge retention, but also an increase in employee satisfaction and overall retention rates.
A comprehensive toolkit
Training and onboarding is more challenging than ever before as many traditional training methods are less effective or more impossible to perform. While e-learning excels in providing information, it lacks the ability to provide employees with engaging experiences and the ability to practice skills in a realistic environment.
VR-based Immersive Learning serves as a complement by providing employees with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with likely workplace scenarios and practice various skills with timely feedback.
Not only does the immersion help give new hires and remote workers a more exciting and personal onboarding experience, but the ability to collect data for L&D programs creates a long term impact on their happiness and retention rate.
VR training is not the ‘end all’ solution for employee training. However, it can be a cutting edge tool alongside other learning methods to help companies create a better employee experience from the get-go.