Astronauts, surgeons, and soldiers are already using virtual and mixed reality tools for training purposes. In these environments, where practicing procedures can put lives at risk, VR emerges as an excellent way to reduce unnecessary threats.
People generally learn best by doing and getting real-time feedback when they’re making mistakes. Of course, in high-stakes situations, employees can’t necessarily learn from their errors like they would on a retail or contact centre floor. While risky environments are a natural environment for VR training, the affordability and accessibility of VR hardware is opening the door for other sectors.
More than ever, employees in retail, customer service and logistics are discovering new opportunities for virtual reality too. According to the PWC.co.uk study “Seeing is Believing”, VR training will contribute around $294 billion to the global economy by 2030. Furthermore, VR learners are 4 times more focused in their practice than e-learners, and they complete tasks 4 times faster too.
How Can VR Improve Training Outcomes?
Across hundreds of studies into procedural training, experts have discovered that VR can deliver more affordable and effective learning opportunities. For instance, Walmart uses modules like “The Pickup Tower” to train employees on how to serve customers picking up online orders. Trainees get step-by-step instructions on how to work and get feedback when they make mistakes within a VR space.
Aside from building muscle memory for physical tasks, VR also has benefits to offer for soft skill development too. VR is an excellent way to improve collaboration between team members and teach skills like public speaking. It’s immersive enough to ensure that employees take their lessons seriously, but it’s also safe enough to create a sense of comfort.
For instance, Verizon uses VR call centre training to teach employees how to de-escalate issues with an upset customer. Staff members can practice active listening and speaking as customer conversations become more stressful. According to Verizon, this training has reduced the need for employee training time from 10 hours to 30 minutes.
What Kind of Training can VR Offer?
Through virtual reality experiences, companies can teach team members how to do a variety of things. For instance, surgeons can practice procedures without having to put a patient’s life at risk. Military personnel can practice responding to a dangerous environment or dealing with a hostile enemy.
Outside of these specialist environments, VR has a wide range of applications in training. For instance, companies can use VR for:
1. Diversity and harassment training
As company culture continues to influence employee engagement and performance, diversity and inclusion training are increasingly essential. VR helps to develop empathy by putting staff members in situations where they can see the impact of inclusion from a different perspective. The Mursion company built a virtual tool to help reduce the risk of unconscious bias and improve communication between team members.
Myra LalDin offers a virtual reality experience that puts people into the shoes of individuals who may feel discrimination in the workplace. This helps employees to better understand how their behaviour and words can affect others.
2. Customer experience training
Customer experience is the most important concern for any business these days. The only way to ensure you stand out from your competition is to provide the best experience. Leading businesses are now using VR to improve customer experience.
STRIVR and Walmart worked together to create a simulated training solution for Black Friday sales, to ensure that employees were prepared for the holiday rush. With VR, employees can practice interacting with unhappy customers and stressed clients without putting themselves at risk of excessive stress levels.
3. Safety and compliance training
The virtual reality world provides an excellent place for employees to practice their skills in a safe and manageable immersive learning environment. By removing the risk of a difficult situation and replacing it with a realistic experience, VR helps employees to immerse themselves in a situation when training.
Igloo Vision and BP partnered to train employees on emergency exit procedures when they needed to ensure that team members were safe at an oil refinery. In this environment, employees could learn from their mistakes in a dangerous environment, without putting their lives at risk.
4. Productivity and performance training
VR also has the potential to increase the performance and efficiency of team members in the right circumstances. When Immerse and DHL Express worked together on a VR training platform, they were able to guide employees through the steps involved with safe and efficient ULD stacking. 99% of participants said it helped them to work more efficiently.
In a similar bid for productivity, Ford worked alongside Gravity Sketch to create car mockups with fantastic results. Working in 3D images can help employees to be far more detailed when designing new products and solutions.
5. Recruiting and onboarding
Virtual reality can even improve the initial training experiences that employees go through when they’re joining a new team. Using things like interview simulators, professionals and HR managers can practice asking questions of potential candidates. HR experts can also show candidates around the office without any travel required.
Virtual reality experiences can support employees in learning how to use new software and equipment before they come on-site. It could assist with developing skills for a promotion or new job opportunity within a company. Virtual reality could even offer an excellent way to help team members to feel more connected to the brand when they’re working remotely.
Is VR the Future of Employee Training?
There are still some barriers preventing certain companies from taking full advantage of VR for training purposes. Though the hardware and software is getting cheaper, it’s still a lot of initial expense to consider. Additionally, companies need to spend time building the right kind of training solutions to suit their employees.
However, the benefits of VR training, from reduced costs to better levels of productivity, far outweigh the initial expenses and challenges. Virtual reality could well be the future of corporate training.