A Black Friday brawl between customers, a grieving student, a bank robber, a failing plane engine, a damaged oil rig — some scenarios are too dangerous, complicated, or unpredictable to recreate, which makes them nearly impossible to adequately address in an employee training program. But merely discussing these high-pressure situations without allowing employees to practice necessary skills can leave new hires feeling underprepared. So what can you do to ensure your employees are well-prepared for the challenges they may face?
VR for training has taken off in recent years, with everyone from the military and Boeing to Constellation Brands (a wine, beer, and spirits producer) leveraging this powerful immersive tech to help educate and develop employees.
But before you dive head-first into virtual reality training, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself to make sure your investment will be a success.
1. What is your goal?
As with any technology investment, it’s essential you don’t move forward without a clear objective. Ask yourself, what exactly do you want to accomplish with VR? Are you hoping to help retail employees develop conflict resolution skills, improve a medical professional’s response times in critical situations, increase a technician’s expertise of complex mechanical processes, or ensure salespeople better understand your product?
In some cases, as with Constellation’s SIMI Winery brand, VR helped solve a feasibility issue and save the company money. Flying all the brand’s international sales teams to Sonoma County to tour the winery would have been an expensive logistical nightmare. VR helped transport sales professionals on a virtual trip where they could meet the SIMI team and explore the winery using a custom program and an Oculus Go headset.
In other cases, as with Boeing, the goal was to improve technicians’ productivity and accuracy when installing electrical wiring on an aircraft. VR helps the organization meet this objective by providing technicians an opportunity to examine the electrical systems in realistic detail rather than relying on 2D drawings.
2. Do you have a plan for implementation?
Implementing VR can be challenging if you don’t have access to the appropriate resources and expertise. For example, you’ll need assistance from IT to make sure you have the right technology supports in place. You’ll also have to educate other trainers within your organization on how to use the technology and any new processes you’ve put in place to ensure your VR for training is successful.
Before you finalize your investment, it’s crucial you get other stakeholders on board and also ensure the VR partner you choose will be available to provide support throughout implementation.
3. How will you measure your VR training program success?
Although the ROI is incredible, like most things worth exploring for your business, VR requires an upfront investment of money, time, and other resources. That means senior stakeholders will be eager to see progress and returns as quickly as possible.
Before you implement virtual reality training, define precisely how you’ll measure and report on its success. For example, if your goal is to improve productivity, identify how much more quickly an employee can complete a task after VR training. If your goal is to provide more accurate empathy training for customer service employees, monitor customer satisfaction ratings to identify how they may improve after implementing your VR program. The better you can communicate progress and success, the more likely stakeholders will be to continue supporting your efforts.
4. Does your VR partner understand your unique needs?
When you’re evaluating various immersive technology agencies and vendors, it’s important to consider how well they understand your industry and the unique challenges of your niche. Find how whether they’ve worked with other companies like yours, and always be sure to ask for case studies or samples of previous projects they’ve completed and the outcomes they achieved. Talk through their process, average timelines, and what exactly they recommend to help you meet your goals.
Developing a custom virtual reality training program is a highly involved undertaking, and you need to make sure the partner you choose will have your back from the moment you sign a contract. The best VR partner is one who can not only deliver top quality immersive technology experiences, but one that understands the psychology of employee training and the specific challenges associated with onboarding and skill development.
VR for training is a powerful and rapidly evolving solution for organizations who feel their workforce will benefit from a more hands-on, realistic experience. Even if your company is highly committed to employee development and has created thorough training curriculums, there are some scenarios employees can’t feel prepared to handle until they’ve experienced them. By adding virtual reality training to your onboarding and employee skill-building efforts, you can ensure your team will be ready to face whatever challenges come their way.