Reshaping Employee Training and Development Through Virtual Reality

The scope and effectivity of corporate training have dramatically enhanced, thanks to various technological advancements. These innovations in technology, such as virtual reality, are poised to make drastic improvements in a number of industries, most notably in corporate training and development.

Changes brought by Virtual Reality in Employee Development

In the UK, a recent report found that small and medium businesses are having a hard time finding skilled staff. This leads scholars to conclude that learning and development might just be the most practical application of virtual reality. In fact, about 97% of L&D professionals think of VR as a means that will help them enhance the skills of their staff. Probably due to its flexibility, ease of use, and cost-efficiency, VR is being considered an innovative tool for learning and development. Virtual reality is also creating more training opportunities for employees – a much-needed tool that is aimed to address a very serious concern for employers. One of the most consistently cited reasons for leaving a company, along with the ever-present eagerness of simply wanting a higher salary, is lack of development opportunities. In fact, about 60% of employees cited a lack of career progression as a reason for resignation – 14 points more than those who cited insufficient financial compensation. VR is allowing better training methods to be implemented and is also making the training process more engaging and effective. As suggested in Helen Routledge’s book Why Games Are Good for Business, the gamification of the training process creates high interest for its users, making it more effective.

Benefits of Virtual Reality in Learning & Development

Aside from addressing the most relevant issues in employment today, virtual reality also comes with a number of benefits that every corporation or business will be happy to have. Because virtual reality mimics real-life scenarios, it also removes risks that are otherwise present in real-life. Using VR for training employees, especially those who perform tasks that come with physical dangers, will allow for a safer way to develop skills. Jobs such as shipping and engineering, power grid maintenance, as well as security force training, are among the areas where virtual reality will help a lot in terms of safety. Virtual reality devices run on programs that are being programmed depending on the needs of a company. This allows great customization, which also helps drive costs down. Companies will no longer have to build new training facilities for training new skills that may be needed in the future. Using virtual reality also helps minimise training costs for courses that require resources in different industries, such as in manufacturing as well as in the restaurant and catering industry. While virtual reality can’t create empathy on its own, it can help facilitate empathic emotions. Important for leaders, empathy is a key factor in collaboration. Empathic employees are also observed to be better at customer service – a vital component of service-based businesses.

Applications of Virtual Reality Training in Businesses

Currently, there is a limited number of businesses that use virtual reality in training their staff. However, this is slowly changing. Since 2015, Ford has been using virtual reality to make it easier for their designers to build vehicle prototypes. Designers are able to see, to make changes, and to virtually interact with vehicle parts through the world recreated through the platform. This helps their employees eliminate the need to allocate time and resources in drawing and creating prototypes that can cost the company thousands, if not millions. In addition, just last year, KFC debuted the company’s first virtual reality employee training platform where their employees see the process and learn to cook a batch of their signature fried chicken. The program was built to mimic a game where participants have to go through 5 steps to make fried chickens, KFC-style. Because their chicken takes about 25 minutes to cook and that they employ about 19,000 cooks across the United States, using virtual reality for training new staff, as well as re-training current employees, will also help the company save on resources. UPS also announced last year that training for their student delivery drivers will now be available through virtual reality. Nine training facilities started the adoption of virtual reality for driver safety traning, where VR headsets can simulate real-life driving experience and help protect future employees. Evidently, virtual reality has a huge potential to change and revolutionize learning and development. Loaded with great benefits both for employees and the company’s performance, the top management and executives of a company, especially those who have a stake in skills training and development, must reflect on current practices and look at how they can integrate virtual reality into their training courses. Through a well-planned implementation, these benefits can be harnessed by businesses to improve employee performance and achieve success at work.