Is VR the future of corporate training?

White, blonde-haired woman using a VR headset and a handheld controller

To maintain productivity, companies have adopted new technologies that give both managers and employees the ability to do more with less. While productivity is important, employees are hungrier than ever for leadership and professional development that will be instrumental to their career and personal satisfaction.

DDI has captured this such sentiments in their 2021 Global Leadership Survey and found key trends:

  • 84% of Chief Human Resources Officers  (CHROs) think they need to develop and upskill employees in the next 10 years.
  • 35% of respondents agree retraining or upskilling employees is a concern.
  • 18% of leaders felt confident in developing the necessary coaching and empathy skills to save a team member from burnout.

Virtual Reality (VR) is an emerging technology that is poised to become a primary medium to enhance the learning and development of employees. Using VR for training is a recruiting, growth, and retention tool. 

Companies using Virtual Reality have already taken the first step in recognizing the need to invest in employees. Now it’s important to address how they deliver on that promise in a measurable way and set their companies up for future success. 

Is using VR the future of corporate training? We think the answer is yes, and here’s a few reasons why.

Using VR for training helps mitigate upskilling challenges 

In the coming decade, 84% of CHROs see a major change in how their organizations upskill their workforces. This tells us that leaders are foreshadowing a faster pace at which their workforce will be forced to approach the coming challenges and opportunities in the market. This organizational self-reflection requires a look at the current training curriculum and methods by which it is delivered.

Companies using virtual reality are able to simulate real-world scenarios in a safe, controlled, and engaging environment. It provides the benefits of on-the-job, individualized training, but in a way that is much more easily accessible and scalable across the entire organization. 

Using VR for training, L&D and HR organizations have a unique window into how employees are learning through the capture of key data such as attention and engagement. How a learner performs during training is a close indicator to how that person will perform in real life. This data is used to optimize learning and performance.

You can teach brand new skills using VR for training

Any new skill or procedure requires instruction and practice. While learning on-the-job is a proven teacher, it’s become a lot harder these days. Not to mention, it is at the expense of operational efficiency and customer experience. This is why 35% of the CHROs agree retraining or upskilling employees is a concern.

Using VR for training offers the ability to upskill an employee on a new tool or procedure in a shorter period of time, with no class or trainer needed, in an experiential way. 

Companies using Virtual Reality are seeing day-long training reduced to 15 minute VR training sessions. Gone are the requirements to send trainers to travel nationwide. The VR simulations have been shown to be just as impactful as the in-person training.

What does this simulation look like? Learners put on the headset and find themselves in a real work environment, like on the store floor. They go through several short, self-guided lessons and click on the key areas of the tower that they need to understand. Then, they are tested on what they’ve learned through a combination of multiple-choice questions and “scene hunts” – where learners must scan the 360-degree environment and identify mistakes, out-of-place items, and hazards.

“We’ve seen that VR boosts confidence and retention while improving test scores 10 to 15 percent.”

-Andy Trainor, VP of US Learning, Walmart

Companies using Virtual Reality are learning and practicing uniquely human soft skills

DDI found 18% of leaders felt confident in developing the necessary coaching and empathy skills to save a team member from burnout.

Upskilling is not mutually exclusive to hard skills, it can also be applied to improving employee soft skills. Whether your employees are in a frontline role interacting with your customer or are developing policy within the corporate environment, rapid change has the power to burn people out.  In fact, consider your frontline employees and extension of leadership when interacting with your customer.

Critical listening and de-escalation skills can prevent a customer from breaking off the relationship over a bad piece of merchandise or poor shopping experience. Verizon has been leveraging VR to assess where an employee’s ability is in understanding, managing, and de-escalating an angry customer. The training also helped employees understand the cause for the customer’s frustration and build empathy to provide better service.

Before VR training, only 59% of associates considered themselves extremely confident in dealing with an upset customer. After training, the number rose to 96%. 

Why? The employees felt more confident and prepared for difficult customer situations in a simulated environment. Administrators can also analyze a learner’s recorded speech and movement to help assess the training’s benefit. 

Using VR for training has real and measurable impact

For every dollar invested into training, executive leaders need to see a return on that investment. But do they? 

For many companies, it’s unclear whether major investments in critical trainings have paid off in terms of ROI.

The true impact of upskilling – and training in general – should be clear across three levels: employee, operations, and culture.

Companies using Virtual Reality for immersive experiences are seeing:

  • Employees are excited to learn and empowered through learning. They build skills and competencies to propel their careers. 
  • Business benefits are seen through improved metrics – from reduced training times to improved CSAT scores – from employees who get hands-on training before ever stepping foot on the job.
  • A strong culture begins to take hold at the organization around learning, performance, and building new skills.

These three levels of impact are not felt consistently with every upskilling endeavor. However, using VR for training, Companies are bridging the skills gaps in their organizations, engaging their employees in more effective ways, and connecting learning to performance with clear and measurable impact.

To learn more about using VR for training, download our eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Immersive Learning now!

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