Training Transformation: A Modern Approach to Skills Development

From sales training to leadership development, VR solutions gain advocates as a better way to learn

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Digital transformation is increasing the urgency to re-skill or up-skill employees to thrive in a rapidly evolving workplace. But professional development programs are often left behind in technology-driven transformation initiatives. Now, however, organizations are discovering the use of virtual reality (VR) for a wide variety of soft-skills training, such as improving sales pitches or becoming a better manager.

When learning soft skills, confidence is a key driver to success, and VR is delivering in that regard. A PwC study on the use of VR in soft skills training found that learners trained in VR were 275% more confident to act on what they learned after training, which was a 40% improvement over similar classroom training and a 35% improvement over e-learning methods.

“In difficult circumstances, such as having to give negative feedback to an employee, people generally wish they could practice handling the situation in a safe environment,” the report states. VR training is ideal for employees who want to practice these types of situations in an immersive, low-stress environment.

In addition, organizations are finding that learners are more emotionally connected to VR content than with other training methods. In the PwC study, VR learners felt nearly four times more emotionally connected to the content than classroom learners. On a VR course on diversity and inclusion, participants said “they had a wake-up-call moment and realized they were not as inclusive as they thought they were,” the study notes.

Training for front-line workers and management teams

Hilton, the global hospitality company, is using a VR solution to help train hotel staff to manage difficult interactions with guests. Team members take on the role of guests in a variety of virtual scenarios: interactions at a front desk, a meeting room setup, room service, breakfast service, and departure. The immersive experience helps them to understand how it feels when interactions are poorly managed, resolved correctly, or handled in a way that goes beyond expectations.

“Providing an experience that increases empathy is a game-changer for us,” says Blaire Bhojwani,

Senior Director of Learning Innovation with Hilton. “If Team Members understand what guests are feeling, they will be better equipped to manage guests’ expectations and work to exceed them.”

As part of its research into the benefits of VR in soft skills training, PwC created a program to help sales teams practice new approaches. “Learners get to pitch a virtual CEO, but if they rely on business-as-usual sales techniques, the virtual CEO asks them to leave her office,” the PwC report explains. “However, if learners apply skills that demonstrate how they can bring value to the CEO’s company, they get a ‘virtual contract’ at the end of the conversation.”

VR is also being used to teach new enterprise management techniques. For example, The Leadership Network is teaching the concept of lean manufacturing as part of its Developing Lean Leaders program. The program is based on the principle of “learning by doing,” giving teams the chance to test their knowledge and practice new skills in life-like situations from their home or office.

In addition to enhancing confidence and emotional connections, VR helps learners complete their training faster than classroom or e-learning methods. Because the VR learners were able to participate in simulations as themselves, they reported “making decisions based on what they would have done in real life,” PwC researchers noted.

Learn more about how VR can eliminate physical barriers to provide new ways for companies to connect, collaborate, and learn.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.