One of the dirtiest words in HR is turnover. It’s expensive and destabilizing, it sabotages efficiency — and it’s been at its highest in decades. Per the New York Times, “All that turnover has taken a toll on productivity — for individual companies, and perhaps for the economy as well.”
Addressing the twin issues of employee turnover and productivity is on the minds of economists, and it’s certainly on the mind of business leaders. But to some extent, turnover will always exist, and the productivity of an organization will always have room to improve. In some industries — particularly when it comes to frontline workers — these are facts of life that will never entirely change. Nevertheless, every company today can benefit from reducing turnover rates.
The problem with employee turnover
“The issue at the heart of everything — from inflation to growth to companies and head count — it’s about productivity, and that turnover concern is huge.”— Nela Richardson, chief economist for ADP, on the New York Times
Strictly defined, employee turnover is the number of employees who leave a business during a particular length of time. There are a lot of causes behind turnover trends, including employee burnout, salary and benefit disparities, management issues, and a lack of opportunity for professional development. There’s also the macro problem of women leaving the workforce because they can’t secure adequate childcare. According to SHRM, there are nearly 2 million fewer women in the US labor force than there were prior to the pandemic.
Regardless of the cause, every time an employee quits, the business pays to train a replacement. According to Gallup, the average cost of this replacement can be up to twice that employee’s annual salary. The same Gallup surveys showed that the most likely people to quit a job are those who are actively disengaged. Highly engaged teams are not just less likely to quit; they are 14 to 18% more productive.
Generally speaking, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it takes an average of 36 days to fill a position. But 1 in 5 of employees quit within a week, and 17% after the first month. From whatever angle you look at this type of data, it pays to keep employees interested, engaged, and committed. Anything you can do to move the needle on this pays dividends.
Economists argue that a certain amount of “normal” turnover is actually good for the economy and the workforce. It spreads talent around so that companies ultimately find the right workers — albeit through a process of trial and error. From the worker perspective, the ability to change jobs at will enables them to seek out the highest salary and best fit. When this is all in harmony, the economy thrives.
But when turnover rates increase, it causes massive disruption to general productivity. And for any individual HR team, there’s little incentive to participate in the vague notion of “economic balance.” Leaders want to hire the right people, train them well, and keep them around as long as possible. From this perspective, the right L&D technology can put HR organizations at a distinct advantage.
VR training in the workforce
Virtual reality (VR) can be one of the best ways to engage new hires and boost the productivity and efficiency of existing employees. It can be applied to a vast array of use cases, and customized for different industries and jobs. Here are a few real-life examples:
- MGM Resorts uses VR training to train thousands of new employees at scale when the company opened casinos in a new East Coast market
- United Rentals cut the training time of outside sales reps by 40%, making reps more confident the very first time they step on a job site
- Sprouts indoctrinate new hires into its workplace culture more proficiently so new hires instantly feel they’re part of a team
These are just a few examples of the ways companies across industries apply VR training to fostering not just employee skill building and competency but engagement and longevity in a role.
How VR helps lessen employee turnover and improve productivity
VR training, particularly in the form of Immersive Learning, onboards employees more quickly, effectively, and scalably than most traditional types of corporate training. And while Immersive Learning is fantastic for onboarding employees in the first place, it’s also particularly helpful in reducing turnover for a few reasons:
- Improves employee retention
- Enhances learning experience
- Increases productivity
Immersive Learning specifically combines the highly realistic virtual simulation capability of VR with advanced learning theory, data science, and spatial design. This type of multimodal immersive training doesn’t just make an impact on the learner; it provides data back to the HR organization that helps measure employee learning, productivity, and engagement.
Measuring employee productivity
Immersive Learning — a specific type of VR training — holds an added advantage for organizations hoping to decrease turnover and increase productivity. The VR training data Immersive Learning modules provides helps organizations gauge not only what people are learning, and how well, but can better predict their on-the-job performance in advance of their first day on the “real job.”
Likewise, with the data gathered from Immersive Learning modules, enterprise organizations can make continuous improvements to their training experience over time. For example, one of Strivr’s enterprise customers, a large national grocery chain, tapped into the productivity data it already had available from new hires at distribution centers. Using that data, the grocery chain partnered with Strivr to create Immersive Learning modules with highly specific learning goals, increasing productivity in its workforce over time via better and better training experiences.
VR training data can get very specific. With Strivr’s platform, for instance, data might include:
- How learners interact with the virtual environment
- Where their attention lies within a virtual experience
- Whether they can answer multiple-choice questions correctly within the actual headset experience
This is all quantitative data, meaning that it can be measured and compared. But many companies go further to gather qualitative data from their employees after going through VR training. These can be some highly expressive metrics. For instance, 97% of the Verizon employees who experienced immersive training in armed robbery said they felt more prepared for the potential of a dangerous situation than before they took the training.
VR learning as an effective training solution
Employee turnover and productivity are just two of the legacy challenges that L&D organizations are solving with Immersive Learning. While organizations may never reach the perfect state of zero turnover and 100% productivity, the right kind of VR learning can make a big difference.
Strivr partners with enterprise organizations looking to improve the hard and soft skills of their workforces in a way that’s scalable, customized, and highly effective.
If you’d like to learn a little more about the difference between VR training and Immersive Learning, watch the video The Strivr Immersive Learning Platform: What it is and how it works.