Despite being in the public domain for decades, VR has struggled to shed its reputation as a consumer gaming tool. Until recently, the use of VR in the corporate world has been relatively limited. Now, however, businesses are recognising its potential, and VR technology is beginning to reshape workplaces and workforces via VR training.
One of the most powerful commercial uses of VR is in employee training. The benefits that VR brings to gaming — immersion, engagement — are also hugely beneficial in a training context. These attributes, paired with a VR platform’s ability to capture detailed trainee data securely, will pave the way for more effective, more data-driven learning and development programmes.
As it becomes ever more challenging for businesses to retain staff, business leaders are left with two major problems. First, how can they engage their people to encourage them to stay? Secondly, if employees do leave, how do leaders ensure that the business retains its intellectual capital?
Employers need to ensure that they can train their new employees quickly without adding to the workload and stress of existing employees. This can seem almost impossible, as the ones who can best pass on the knowledge of the business and its processes are existing employees themselves.
Virtual reality (VR) training offers a solution. By designing training experiences in VR based on the expertise of senior staff, businesses can roll out training for their team that can be used over and over again, requiring significantly less input from existing employees.
These are three of the major benefits of using VR for corporate training.
1. Training any time, any place
Once a VR training program has been created, it can be used by staff based in any part of the world. Employees no longer have to travel to a particular location to receive training, and geographically dispersed teams can train together in the same environment.
Training for new employees doesn’t need to be crammed into a few days, but can be rolled out gradually as new staff settle into their roles. Learning isn’t confined to one-off sessions, but becomes an ongoing process: employees can revisit the virtual training scenarios to refresh themselves on particular processes or to improve their skills.
2. Low-risk training for high-risk scenarios
Sometimes it is just not practical to provide face-to-face training, particularly in high-risk industries, or when access to equipment is limited. For example, Immerse worked with energy company Shell to create a VR simulation of a storage tanker overspill, so that staff could be trained in safety and emergency response procedures without being exposed to any real danger.
3. Continuous improvement
Huge amounts of data can be gathered by VR training platforms, which enables companies to continually make improvements. Better training programs can of course lead to better-trained employees, and higher levels of employee engagement.
The Immerse Virtual Enterprise Platform (VEP) captures over 30 data points per user per second as standard, providing employers with a huge amount of information about what works well and what doesn’t. For example, if a number of employees are getting caught up at a particular point this might indicate that the process needs to be adjusted. Or if a specific employee repeatedly struggles to complete one key task, this might flag up that they need further coaching on this element of their job.
VR training to improve employee retention
As employers struggle to retain their people, leaders must find new and innovative ways of both retaining knowledge within the business, and increasing staff engagement to reduce turnover. VR training can help with both.
It provides an efficient, scalable way of training new hires and upskilling existing members of staff. Furthermore, training that is genuinely immersive and engaging can actually have a positive impact on staff retention: employees who find their company’s L&D enjoyable show higher levels of engagement with their role and with their company in general.
VR technology continues to evolve, and increasingly sophisticated functionality is coming available that will further increase the usefulness of VR in the enterprise space. Developments such as moving from text-based reporting to the ability to record training sessions in full will allow for more nuanced and dynamic feedback from trainers and employees alike.
VR’s potential in the business world is finally being realised. As business leaders fully grasp the benefits that it brings, VR’s reach will extend to more and more sectors, resulting in vastly improved training programmes that are more engaging for staff and more effective for employers.