Industry Leaders Are Employing Virtual Reality Training—Should You?

Think about employee training at your company. How is it designed? How is your organization helping employees learn? If the image in your mind right now is something like conventional classrooms, let me tell you: You are setting employees up for failure.

Traditional learning starts in a classroom. Whether in person or online, gaining knowledge from textbooks and other resources is the No. 1 priority. However, when it comes to corporate training, experience comes before knowledge. The more experienced employees are, the more competent they are and the more likely they are to master skill sets.

People gain mastery over something primarily through repetition. They have to practice, fail and improve repeatedly. This process doesn’t usually happen by attending instructor-led training sessions. People have to experience things for themselves. In other words, your training must create opportunities for experiential learning in order to actually be helpful and as a result yield competent employees.

You might be scratching your head right about now. Here’s where virtual reality (VR) can come into play.

What Is VR Training?

VR training is not just some techy stuff that only companies in Silicon Valley hype about. In fact, technically, your workplace can implement VR training starting today, and it doesn’t have to involve getting everyone VR headsets—you can create VR experiences your employees can access from their desktops or mobile devices.

The Three A’s Of VR Training

While there are a lot more A’s including “awesome” and “amazing,” let me focus on the three most important A’s to keep in mind when crafting your VR training:

Authentic

The words virtual and authentic may not seem like the perfect pair, but hear me out. An immersive, virtual experience can create authentic and genuine interactions, which makes the content more emotional. The more emotional the content, the more valuable the overall learning and memory processes will be. Keep this in mind when designing your programming.

For example, Bank of America’s approximately 50,000 employees across the U.S. have been learning and practicing communication and relationship skills through VR training. Bank of America created scenario-based, interactive learning modules to give employees opportunities to virtually interact with clients and colleagues. These lifelike learning environments allow employees to navigate different scenarios and conversations and provide valuable feedback based on their interactions. The bank’s VR training has effectively trained employees four times faster than traditional instructor-led sessions.

Accelerated

While there are various definitions of “accelerated learning,” generally it refers to an intensive and learner-centered learning experience. Leverage the power of accelerated learning by enabling employees to create their own learning experiences. Instead of having to walk them through everything, you can let them run now so they can walk later.

For instance, Boeing has embraced VR technology that allows designers and engineers to virtually practice diverse manufacturing tasks ranging from sealing a cargo door to building the entire aircraft. Through accelerated VR learning experiences, employees can complete specific tasks as well as practice key skills. Because everything is virtual, it’s much easier to deal with issues that arise along the way, which would have taken a toll on production in real life. According to Boeing, their training time per person has been reduced by 75% and accuracy has increased by 33%, saving millions.

Find ways to provide accelerated paths to learning where your employees get virtual firsthand experience.

Adaptable

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to training but you can adapt VR training in many different ways to fit learning styles. Open up unparalleled possibilities for adaptation and customization when crafting your VR learning opportunities. There are various tools available online that do not require coding skills such as CenarioVR, which help you build VR training experiences just for your workplace.

For instance, Italian fashion house Fendi created VR training focused on health, safety, and security for thousands of in-store staff around the globe. The training resulted in a 400% return on investment and a 55% reduction in shoplifting. Take full advantage of VR technology’s adaptability by tailoring your experiences to your unique company.

Drive engagement by making your VR training content more relatable. You can turn any scenario imaginable into an interactive VR learning experience. Learning is more authentic and employee comprehension accelerates when you create experiences that are immersive and lifelike.

Industry leaders across the world are taking their training to the next level, transforming how their employees learn with VR training, and you can too.

First Published for Forbes Human Resources Council by The Game Agency’s Head of Creative Strategy & Innovation Stephen Baer as a member of Forbes Human Resources Council Member

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