Soft Skills

How VR can support inclusive workplace training

Three diverse faces looking into camera

It’s so important to create an inclusive workplace. A Glassdoor survey found 61% of US employees have experienced or witnessed discrimination at work.

We spend a third or more of our lives at work, and nobody wants to feel misunderstood, judged or discriminated against while there. This motivator alone gives HR leaders a unique opportunity to offer employees an opportunity to assess and reflect on their own reactions to difficult scenarios. 

Traditional DE&I initiatives for inclusive workplace training are presented to learners through video scenarios, multiple-choice testing questions, and presentations. Yet, these methods don’t properly simulate how to create an inclusive environment. Nor can they prepare employees for how to manage difficult conversations around diversity and inclusion. 

One of the most meaningful ways to do this is through immersion in Virtual Reality (VR).

How VR encourages inclusive behaviors 

Nobody is perfect and people come from different walks of life. At some point in our careers, we have experienced the awkwardness of making a comment that might have come off the wrong way. At worst, we might have been the subject of non-inclusive behavior.

VR-based inclusive workplace training gives the learner the opportunity to practice navigating these experiences in a way that feels real and provides meaningful feedback for self-reflection.

VR learning extends beyond any other diversity and inclusion training. It is a whole-body experience in which the learner feels presence, like they’re actually in the situation.

In the headset, learners can experience, respond, and replay to receive feedback and self-assess their answers to non-inclusive workplace interactions. This experience tops passively watching videos or making multiple choice selections about how they would act. 

Through presence, learners take on the perspective of different roles, speak to others, and reflect on their decision-making. This complete immersion helps make them more aware of the conversations they have and witness. 

African American male in suit crossing arms

And learners get to practice with real-world inputs in the virtual environment, so nuances like tone of voice, non-verbal gestures, and other microaggressions become more evident and recognizable. 

In our webinar, Fostering an inclusive workplace with Immersive Learning, Strivr’s DEI lead April Kandel shared how Immersive Learning in VR can help set a baseline for appropriate behavior in the workplace. “We want to start to set expectations for how to behave in these situations, and highlight which skills you need to be an inclusive participant in these environments,” says April. 

Webinar: Fostering an inclusive workplace with Immersive Learning

Building the foundational skills for an inclusive workplace

VR-based inclusive workplace training goes beyond checking the box. It brings the training to life. Learners must develop skills that enable them to perform the intended actions and more. 

Based on Strivr’s experience in building soft skills for Fortune 500 enterprises, we have defined four critical skills for inclusive behaviors.

  • Communication – The experiences will help learners manage emotions and communicate effectively. This includes receiving feedback with grace, giving feedback without emotion, self-awareness about language and gesturing, and communicating without getting defensive.
  • Situational awareness – The experiences will help learners practice their emotional intelligence by recognizing the emotions of another person through visual, auditory, and verbal clues. They also provide an opportunity to react as an observer and as a subject.
  • Active listening – The experiences will help learners practice listening to understand, which requires complete engagement that can be measured using immersive data. 
  • Taking initiative – The experiences will help learners practice taking action during uncomfortable situations like pausing conversations, either as the subject of the microaggression or as a bystander.

These inclusive workplace training skills don’t guarantee the disappearance of unconscious bias and microaggressions. However, these skills instill knowledge and confidence to effectively navigate the difficult conversations that may happen in the workplace.

4 ways companies are teaching soft skills in the workplace with VR

The VR-based inclusive workplace training prompts learners to make decisions about if and how to react to exclusionary behaviors. Depending on the scenario – as initiator, subject, or bystander – employees practice their reactions in a safe and low-risk environment. 

Immersive experience with African American male and Caucasian woman interacting

“It’s not about scrutinizing behavior. It’s really about giving opportunity and guidance to say take some time and space and figure out how to apply these in your own personal role.”

-April Kandel, Sr. Program Manager & DEI Solutions lead, Strivr

VR is critical for inclusive workplace training

Using VR for inclusive workplace training isn’t just more effective on an individual basis, it’s also a means to standardization at scale for enterprise-wide impact. Because Immersive Learning provides equal access to the same effective learning and practice for all employees, Virtual Reality has become a critical component of inclusive workplace training today.

For more DE&I examples, read our ebook, Creating inclusive workplaces with Immersive Learning

To discover what inclusive workplace training in VR could look like at your company, get a conversation going with a Strivr expert.

Contact a Strivr expert

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