Virtual Reality for soft skills training: here’s how it can boost your workforce
A 2020 Pwc study on the use of virtual reality for soft skills training revealed that trainees retained the course information much faster and were more confident in applying their new skills to real-life situations compared to classroom and e-learning training attendees.
Since the coronavirus pandemic and the rise of remote work have limited employees’ access to traditional in-person training, more and more companies around the world have turned to VR to address skills gaps within their workforce and stay competitive in the market.
Developing soft skills with VR training has many advantages due to its highly interactive and immersive nature, which enables employees to handle difficult conversations with colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders more efficiently and build task confidence. Plus, the advanced data capturing capabilities of VR provide managers and HR leaders with valuable insights regarding employee skill sets and performance.
If you’re unsure whether a VR training program is the right solution for your business, take a look at the quick VR training guide we’ve put together for you.
What is Virtual Reality training?
Virtual reality training is the 3D simulation of real-life workplace scenarios for learning purposes.
VR training provides employees with immersive learning experiences by allowing them to test their skills in a safe, low-stress environment, receive real-time feedback on their performance, and adjust their approach for the next time they repeat a scenario.
Such a training experience would be incredibly challenging or nearly impossible to replicate in the real world. That’s why VR training represents an excellent opportunity for employees to get hands-on experience.
Apart from using VR training simulations for improving a person’s hard skills, a VR experience proves extremely efficient when teaching new managers and employees soft skills such as resilience, empathy, active listening, and leadership.
With the help of a VR headset, trainees are placed within a real-life business scenario where they need to interact with virtual humans or avatars and solve a specific problem while putting their communication and interpersonal skills to the test.
To help you better understand how VR training works, we’ll briefly present a real-world use case where VR technology was applied to simulate face-to-face customer interactions.
Virtual Reality soft skills training use case: Santander Bank Polska
Santander Bank Polska required an engaging training program to onboard new customer service employees and help existing ones upskill. Together with the team at Santander, we developed a custom-made solution that used 360-degree VR videos to display seven different training scenarios.
Each scenario was carefully designed to test the employees’ soft skills by having them interact with a specific customer persona. The trainees had to choose between a set of pre-determined possible answers in order to find the best approach when handling the conversations with those seven virtual customers.
As opposed to e-learning, VR training allows employees to practice their communication skills and emotional responses in a risk-free virtual work environment that simulates real-life human interactions. This enables more businesses like Santander to successfully deploy cost-efficient training programs for their remote workforce and deliver high-quality customer experiences.
What’s driving the increasing interest in Virtual Reality soft skills training?
Source: PwC VR Soft Skills Training Efficacy Study, 2020
As remote working continues to be the new normal for many organizations worldwide, employers and HR leaders have become more interested in leveraging VR training to assist in soft skills development and boost employee retention levels.
Here are the main benefits of implementing a VR soft skills training program within your company:
Faster training and improved knowledge retention
Compared to traditional training methods, VR simulations allow employees to learn new skills and improve their performance at a faster pace.
The PwC study showed that VR training allowed employees to upskill four times faster than classroom learners and 1.5 times faster than those enrolled in e-learning training programs. Moreover, VR learning could summarize the course material of a 2-hour classroom training in only 30 minutes.
Another key aspect that the study uncovered is that VR training engaged the learners’ emotions, contributing to improved knowledge retention. As a result of the immersive experience they had, VR learners felt almost four times more emotionally connected to the course material than in-person training attendees.
More confident and better prepared employees
Using VR when practicing how to, for example, give negative feedback to a colleague or de-escalate an emotionally charged customer interaction results in high confidence levels for learners.
According to the PwC study, participants in a VR training program that had the opportunity to role-play a difficult situation with a virtual avatar were up to 275% more confident when applying what they learned in a real-world setting. Considering that the level of confidence for e-learners reached only 203%, this highlights VR’s great potential in creating meaningful learning experiences for employees.
VR training also provided learners with the ability to go through numerous rounds of practice with minimal interruptions. Since virtual simulations call for the learner’s full attention, PwC found that VR-trained employees were four times more focused during training sessions than e-learning trainees. Furthermore, this enhanced mental focus allowed employees to achieve better task performance.
Cost-effective learning deployed at scale
Although implementing a VR training program generates up to 48% higher initial costs than in the case of similar classroom and e-learning courses, this training approach becomes more cost-effective in the long term as the number of trainees grows.
The PwC study estimated that having at least 375 learners enrolled in the program places the VR training costs on par with classroom courses, while 1,950 learners put it on par with e-learning costs. In other words, the more employees undergo VR training within a company, the more cost-efficient it becomes.
Moreover, investing in VR courses allows companies to cut down on expenses associated with traditional corporate training, such as traveling across the world to an in-person training workshop (increasingly difficult to do in the post-Covid age).
Adapt to the future of work with VR training
VR training can help your remote employees confidently practice their soft skills anytime, from anywhere in the world, thus closing the gap between learning and real-world application through a completely immersive role-playing experience.
Moreover, as the virtual training scenarios can be fine-tuned to cover a wide range of situations and customer types, trainees will never be caught unprepared when faced with a new issue they need to solve.
Last but not least, choosing VR training over more traditional approaches like in-person or e-learning courses allows you to gain a highly skilled workforce while minimizing costs in the long term.
Looking for a personalized VR training solution for your organization? Reach out to us and let’s discuss together how Flint Tech can help you achieve your goals.