Jul 10, 2023, 2:40 AM

Beyond the Buzz: Understanding the Practical Applications of Virtual Reality in Employee Training

Beyond the Buzz: Understanding the Practical Applications of Virtual Reality in Employee Training

Every industry requires at the very least a basic training program that deals with the standard operating procedures of the company. From a corporate environment to a construction site, new employees need to know and understand how to do the basic functions of their job. As you work into a niche, there are even more requirements like empathy training, or hazardous materials training. The purpose of training is to prepare an employee for every scenario they’d find on the job, and to remember certain facts and details for months or years after. Even though in most jobs training is seen as a invaluable expense, the Forgetting Curve demonstrates how about 70% of new information is lost within 24 hours, which ultimately defeats the purpose of training in the end.

This is where virtual reality can come in. Due to its immersive capabilities, virtual reality is very well suited to the task of employee training. Let’s look at virtual reality itself, the benefits that make it a good fit, and the practical applications of virtual reality in employee training.

What is virtual reality, and how does it benefit employee training

Virtual reality is an immersive technology that creates a simulated environment in which people can interact. Using sensors in gloves and mats, movement is relayed and then displayed using an HMD in order to show the users relation to the virtual environment. It can be displayed cartoonish or hyper realistic, as long as the movements mirror what they person is doing physically to get the most benefit in a training scenario.

Virtual reality training is not necessarily a new method; it has been around as simulation training for decades. However, mainstream notability of virtual reality for employee training is a relatively new concept. VRT has only been utilized in corporate, retail, and various other niches in the last several years. However, many companies have realized the benefits of the technology and the technology is rapidly growing for this specific purpose.

VRT Benefits:

- The gamified nature increases engagement, and leads to better focus.
- The immersion levels cut out other outside stimuli, which also leads to better focus.
- Better focus, and physical repetition leads to better memory retention.
- Better memory retention leads to more skilled and high value employees and less mistakes made on the job.

In an article written for Talent LMS on learning retention, the author offers 8 ways to help retain information longer, all of which help illustrate the benefits of virtual reality training as it pertains to information retention.

1. Read less, remember more- Having too much information to absorb is a major cause of information loss. VRT’s way of offering information is via visuals, along with text, and audio, which eliminates the amount of information they have to remember mentally.
2. Tell a story- We remember things better when we’re entertained, when there is an emotional connection to the subject matter, so gamifying it simply helps us remember better. Virtual reality actively gamifies information and is more engaging as a result.
3. Test, Quiz, Ask- Incorporating quizzing into training material boosts retention. Testing after each module repeats the information again, even if the trainee got answers wrong. Virtual reality creates scenario-based testing that the employee can work through physically.
4. Active participants will remember- The more engaged a person is in an activity, the more they’ll remember. Virtual reality encourages active participation, leading to better learning outcomes.
5. Repeat to retain- repetition is they key to remembering information. Writing things down, memorizing, etc. are all beneficial ways that help. However writing, similarly to reading, gets exhausting and doesn’t allow for the full breadth of the information to sink in. Virtual reality simulations offer information in a variety of methods to make sure that it’s solidly remembered without feeling repetitive.
6. Apply learning to the real world- Information is only abstract in a person’s mind until they apply it to their own situation. Virtual reality allows trainees to interact in ways that immediately applies the information to them.
7. Guide learners through- Learning new information can be intimidating. Virtual reality guides the user through situations with little stress which allows more room for learning.
8. Review, Summarize, and Demonstrate- A key portion of learning new things is to teach somebody else how to do the task. Nothing teaches better than doing. In virtual reality, users can demonstrate their ability over and over again until they feel confident in the task itself.

Virtual Reality Applications in Employee Training

Thousands of companies are implementing virtual reality training strategies to help boost employee retention, information retention, and eliminate mistakes on the job. Here are some other skills that businesses around the world use virtual reality training to learn.

Empathy- Virtual reality is very well suited for empathy training, a necessary skill when you’re in any hospitality field. With simulations designed to reflect the scenarios an employee will face in a hotel, hospital, or retail space, virtual reality teaches employees how to show empathy no matter what they’re feeling.

Leadership- Leadership is a highly valued skill that doesn’t come naturally to everybody. Virtual reality training teaches a person how to respond to those they’re overseeing in order to develop the skill necessary to be an effective leader.

Hazardous Conditions- Many manufacturing and construction sites require hazardous conditions training to keep employees safe. Virtual reality helps teach how to act in hazardous conditions, and the specific moves to make, such as operating a forklift or other heavy machinery, in a risk-free environment. It gives the employee the skills and confidence to work without mistakes.

De-escalation Tactics- De-escalation is crucial in police work, and many other high intensity jobs dealing with people. Learning the steps to take to de-escalate a situation in a simulated environment prepares trainees for real world environments in which they’ll need to use those same tactics.

Assembly- Assembling products like car parts, or toys can have many steps to take from the beginning to end. Using virtual reality, manufacturers can train their employees in the steps necessary to complete the tasks to eliminate mistakes on the floor.

Emergency- Emergencies can be planned for but not entirely mitigated. Each company must have a plan in place to deal with emergent situations like earthquakes, fires, and intruders. While most hope that it’s not necessary, virtual reality training can teach employees to take certain steps to help eliminate or reduce the negative aspects of the situation. Using simulations to better prepare employees for emergencies is more effective than traditional training methods.

Virtual reality training is becoming more prevalent in corporations everywhere. It has the ability to empower employees with information crucial to their job. Having a solid understanding of their job duties and what to do in any given scenario gives them confidence to do their job well, eliminating the need for long periods of supervision. On top of training the employee, virtual reality instills confidence in the employer, letting them know that they have properly trained employees in a standardized and effective way. Implementing virtual reality training platforms into standard business operations can help businesses thrive in the long run.

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