Operational Efficiency

Why companies are turning to Virtual Reality to engage and train employees faster

A clock reading 3pm, a pen, a cellphone and a notebook on a white desk

Employee training traditionally involved a blended approach, including scalable methods like manuals and videos as well as in-person methods like classes, on-the-job training, and 1:1 mentorship. All of these methods can be useful for certain types of learning, but many organizations have discovered tradeoffs. The training types that reach many associates at scale aren’t as effective, while more beneficial in-person training is more expensive, both in employee wages as well as any operational slowdowns that result.

That’s why dozens of top operational leaders have turned to an innovative approach known as Immersive Learning to engage and train their workforce faster than ever before. Keep reading to learn how Immersive Learning uses Virtual Reality (VR) to reduce training times while providing deeper learning experiences.

[Webinar] Expert insights: Why employees learn better and faster with VR training

What you save with Virtual Reality employee training

The time saved with Virtual Reality employee training makes VR an invaluable tool for enterprises across industries. But understanding how VR reduces training time requires an understanding of the basic principles of Immersive Learning.

Defining Immersive Learning

With roots extending back to the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Immersive Learning combines cutting-edge VR technology with advanced learning theory, data science, and spatial design to deliver experiential training that is highly engaging and effective.

Jeremy Bailenson
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World-renowned VR expert Jeremy Bailenson defines Immersive Learning: “It’s more than content inside a headset.”

In VR, employees experience what it’s like to be in real-world situations, essentially receiving personalized on-the-job training. This minimizes the need for long training courses that involve reviewing manuals, stopping production, walk-arounds, and/or role-playing. Immersive Learning offers the chance to practice many times in a virtual environment so users become proficient in new skills.

In addition, Immersive Learning provides data insights that are more insightful than any other training method. Managers receive immersive data about how associates performed in the modules and why, with the ultimate goal to help improve performance.

Immersive Learning provides effective training that scales across the organization to engage and train many associates quickly.

Why Virtual Reality employee training works faster than traditional training 

Training leaders that have implemented Immersive Learning in VR were first intrigued by how engaging and powerful it was compared to videos and manuals. Then, as they learned more, they found that because of how effective VR training also saved significant time when compared to in-person employee trainings – think hours not minutes.

That’s because VR is an immersive experience, so trainees learn and retain more information in a much shorter period of time. Modules are carefully planned by expert instructional designers who optimize learners’ time in the experience; it almost feels like a personalized training.

In other words, Immersive Learning is as impactful as 1:1 training but delivered in a fraction of the time. There is no dropoff in proficiency when you move your in-person training to VR for enterprise.

Additionally, in VR, trainees get immediate corrective feedback if they get questions wrong, which also helps them learn and retain the information better.

Try selecting “Reduce training time” in our VR Assessment Tool

How to evaluate VR employee training effectiveness

As you consider an Immersive Learning platform for employees, it is important to identify key performance metrics to evaluate VR training’s effectiveness within their business.

The following companies assessed VR training effectiveness by how much they were able to reduce training time. By using VR to immerse employees into “real” work situations, Immersive Learning also helped improve learner engagement, preparedness, knowledge retention, and confidence. 

Pay attention below to the metrics each company used to measure the effectiveness of their VR training program.

For pro tips about how to bring VR-based training to your company, download The Ultimate Guide to Immersive Learning.

Download The Ultimate Guide to Immersive Learning

Download Ultimate Guide

Walmart’s VR employee training for new in-store technology

For example, when Walmart rolled out new in-store technology known as pick-up towers, launch coaches were conducting day-long training sessions at each new location, compromised of eLearnings, hands-on training, and launch kit training.

With virtual reality training for employees, Walmart no longer requires launch coaches to travel to the stores since the ~15 minute VR training session has shown to be just as impactful.

Webinar: Hear from Walmart’s VP of US Learning

How is that possible?

Using advanced instructional design and expert content production, Immersive Learning drops the Walmart trainees onto the store floor in front of a pick-up tower. 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 a trainee must scan the 360-degree environment and identify mistakes, out-of-place items, and hazards.

A tall orange pickup point in a Walmart store
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Nationwide: 3-hour adjuster training reduced to 25-minutes

Nationwide Insurance has water mitigation (i.e. flood) training that required all adjusters to travel to a single location in Ohio. There, Nationwide would literally flood a basement for employee training purposes. The on-site experience took three hours, but Nationwide felt it was a key differentiator for their adjusters’ knowledge retention.

In VR, they reduced the training time to 25 minutes, as the flooded basement was replicated for dozens of trainees to experience without actually being there (or flooding an actual basement!). After implementing VR for their enterprise, Nationwide went a step further and assessed the effectiveness of VR training by comparing test scores of adjusters who went to in-person training to those who used Immersive Learning.

Their scores were exactly the same.

United Rentals cuts new employee training time by 40%

Another example comes from the world’s largest equipment rental company, United Rentals. The company trained outside sales representatives through a mix of classroom instruction and construction site visits.

In Virtual Reality, they recreated the construction sites – many different types than could be visited. Trainees could perform practice walk-throughs without added travel time or even the time it takes to walk all the way around a large construction site. This significantly reduced training time by 40%, which got new sales reps into the field faster without sacrificing training effectiveness.

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The key metric to measure VR employee training effectiveness is hours saved

As noted above, VR training effectiveness can be measured simply by how many hours were saved. This is a simple calculation after substituting VR in for instructor-led training. Moreover, we’ve seen that VR actually unlocks instructors to be the “master trainers” who can really dial in with employees to help make them experts.

  • For Walmart, a 15-minute, immersive training module was as effective as an in-person coaching session.
  • For Nationwide, a 25-minute VR training accomplished the same goals around decision-making skills as the three hour in-person session.
  • United Rentals measured VR training’s effectiveness by how fast it took to put a new sales representative into service.

These VR training programs for employees are showing what is possible and where companies can save time and ultimately money.

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