Key performance indicators (KPIs) are an important part of how an organization ensures that they are hitting their learning, training and engagement goals. This measurement of information is critical for strategic and operational improvement by providing you with an incredibly robust picture of where you are succeeding in your training and engagement, as well as where you might be failing. What’s more, it can give insight into how your people are performing on the job as a result of their training. As such, KPIs are incredibly important so that an organization can measure how successful training is; any way to improve and amplify those metrics would be extremely beneficial to companies of all sizes.
Virtual Reality (VR) has proven itself to be an incredible training tool for organizations, helping them improve employee training and in turn, receive better engagement results. VR can also produce a positive financial impact on an organization by cutting employee training costs. VR turns standard training into a visual, physical, and emotional experience that is so good, it can blow traditional learning KPIs out of the water and provide an organization with something much deeper than they would get from standard training. After all, the more data you receive from your learners could equal huge advantages in improving everything from operational metrics, leadership training, productivity, safety, and overall employee engagement.
Let’s look at how VR can take the Kirkpatrick Four-Level Training Evaluation Model and boost its data for a more robust picture of your training endeavors.
Level 1 – Reaction: When you train employees using VR, they find themselves immersed into a training environment where they are reacting through visual and audio cues, and are participating both physically and emotionally. VR training allows you to put employees into a potentially dangerous or stressful situation without actually putting them in danger, and the employee will react to the training as if they were actually in that scenario in real life. Employees produce a true real-world reaction that includes physical and emotional feedback from the training that normally isn’t possible through traditional classroom training. Employees who go through VR almost always rate it as the best form of training they have done, and it’s highly likely employees are eager to go back and do it again (when is the last time that happened with one of your training programs?). At one of the world’s largest auto manufacturers that has implemented VR as a part of safety and process training, 99% of trainees wrote in post-training surveys that they would recommend VR as a method of learning.
Level 2 – Learning: According to the Masie Center, retention rates using VR for learning can be as high as 75%, versus potentially just 5 or 10% from e-learning and lectures. Learning new skills through VR creates actual muscle memory both mentally and physically, which will enhance the Level 2 KPI. Through VR, you are now able to measure both information acquired in a classroom environment as well as measuring physical and emotional knowledge from your training. You are no longer limited to measuring retained information from lectures or manuals. This is corroborated by many academic studies whose results find that people remember what they saw and experienced in VR much longer than other forms of media like 2D videos.
Level 3 – Behavior: Evaluation of employee behavior based on training they receive gets a big boost from VR. Employees not only can see things from their own perspective, but through VR they are able to observe their own behavior from multiple perspectives or even as a different person, sex, or nationality. It allows the employee to get a full and never-before-seen picture of how they are reacting and behaving during a certain situation. Learners are also able to explore options and even behave in a manner that they normally wouldn’t with zero constraints or consequences. It is through this “exploration learning” that you can improve outcomes by allowing employees to make mistakes in a safe environment. VR accesses the best scientific principles of learning for individuals, which is much more likely to translate into real behavior change on the job. In a survey of thousands of VR users, 80% feel more prepared to do their jobs after using VR for learning.
Level 4 – Results: Actual results from VR training are perhaps the most compelling reason to consider VR as a learning tool. VR gives you data-rich information and presents an incredibly detailed picture of how your employees are performing. Additionally, VR can produce real-world performance improvements that other methods of learning simply cannot. This is because when done correctly, VR mimics the real world; so using VR to practice is just like practicing in the real world. The more real world practice one gets, the better off they’ll be in the actual environment when it matters most. Walmart has seen improvement on training exam scores and Fidelity has increased customer satisfaction by 10%. These organizations have utilized VR as part of training or onboarding, and the results are truly meaningful.
The bottom line: Let’s put the four levels together to show how VR can boost KPIs at all levels of this model.
(1) VR will elicit a very positive reaction out of employees who use it for training purposes. Probably a better Level 1 reaction than any other type of training.
(2) VR will help your employees better retain information and therefore they will learn better. There are some academic studies that can confirm this.
(3) Using VR for learning is likely to help spark real, positive, behavior change on the job. Due to enhanced learning, individuals will have a better understanding of what to do.
(4) Implementing VR will give your organization the real results it has been looking for from the L&D department. Don’t be surprised if other business units want to get involved.
To see how this all comes together, consider a company in the Industrials industry that turned to VR to train new employees on how to spray chemical coatings. This training allowed students to learn-by-doing in a virtual space with no emissions or need for protective equipment. The training could be reviewed via video playback, and skills could be perfected by trying repeatedly. The VR experience provided important KPI metrics to allow the company to see how well new hires were learning their new jobs as well as explore where they needed additional training. It also allowed the organization to see how current employees were learning new processes and procedures. Due to such positive feedback about the training and some of the performance results, the company is now exploring how VR can re-shape all their training initiatives.