Here are three attributes of virtual reality that can enhance the employee’s experience in today’s workplace.
Onboarding and training are two jobs as organizations struggle to engage remote workers. Even after a comprehensive, interactive online orientation or training session, employees often do not feel fully prepared or connected to their teams, and there is a void between what they have learned and practical application. It’s as if we’re vigorously mixing ingredients to make a paste but forgetting to add the action-oriented ingredient (yeast) that helps us all get up collectively.
Virtual reality uniquely removes the constraints of space and time, providing a new dimension with a true sense of presence for remote/global employees and managers to keep in touch with each other, regardless of post-COVID work arrangements. Here are three attributes of virtual reality that can enhance the employee’s experience in today’s workplace.
VR is a great connector
There is a real sense of presence and belonging in VR and people can be just as productive and engaged as – if not more – versus when they are in person. With VR, you can set up new employees and organize ‘speed dating’ tours where they meet leaders and colleagues through interactive media such as posting and sharing or virtual games to help break the ice. To enhance team building and company culture, engage new employees in a competitive research process to identify assets in your dual digital campus. For example, we hosted a VR Film Festival on the Edstutia campus at the end of the video production unit where participants screened final videos in our virtual cinemas, complete with a “Now Showing” movie screening at each theater entrance.
Some organizations lean toward virtual reality for impromptu social interactions and serendipity as well as organized events such as virtual town halls or inclusive meetings. Either way, virtual reality proves to be an excellent way to permeate a company’s culture and enable employees to understand and practice relevant values and behaviors in an immersive – yet realistic environment.
Virtual reality amplifies learning by doing
You cannot multitask in VR. You can’t hide in the back of a room in VR. There is a real sense of presence that keeps the learners engaged. Now, the medium itself is immersive, but content is still king when it comes to virtual reality because drills, simulations, and experiences drive engagement and impact. Virtual reality is the next best thing to face-to-face interaction and is a great alternative when distance, budgets, and other obstacles prevent teams from congregating in one place at the same time.
Through virtual reality we can challenge employees to strengthen their skill set through immersive experiential or active learning. According to Edgar Dale and the Cone of Learning, people learn and retain more when they “learn by doing”. Instead of reading and watching videos or demos (passive learning), which lead to suboptimal learning outcomes, Dale suggests that people who engage in active learning retain 90 percent of what they “do” and experience it in person. These experiences lead to meaningful educational outcomes. Adding VR to the mix amplifies active learning because, by default, learners are placed in simulations and environments that require action.
Virtual reality enables intentional practice in safe spaces
“Fail fast, fail often” is described as a mantra for competency development. Virtual reality provides a safe space to experiment, push yourself outside your comfort zone, fail, think, and bounce. Consider this example: In the transition of veterans to civilian life and contemporary workplaces, virtual reality is an effective alternative to in-person job training for veterinarians with PTSD or those who have difficulty adjusting to an entirely new lifestyle. Virtual reality provides a psychologically safe environment to practice and improve interview skills and preparation for work.
Mock interviews in virtual reality with reinforced learning can help work through the process of connecting service-related achievements and skills to the modern workplace – all in the comfort of their own home. The ability to record and play back scenarios in virtual reality provides plenty of opportunities to learn and practice on the spot through interventions of observation, self-reflection, and training. This type of immersive experience can increase skill speed and confidence to achieve the best results.
One of the greatest advantages of intentional practice in VR is the ability to capture in-depth metrics across the Kirkpatrick spectrum, from learner satisfaction to application to long-term knowledge sharing and transfer. We recommend a 30-60-90 day structure to monitor and measure learning outcomes and long-term retention throughout VR training and practice, and close the assessment loop by ensuring that “learning persistence” is improved within the design and delivery of the VR experience.
recipe for success
So what is the recipe for success for integrating virtual reality into the HR function? Start small. Start slowly. Test the water.
We are not suggesting the use of virtual reality as an alternative to attracting and developing talent, but rather as an enhancement to existing HR processes and programmes. As we all transition to new workplace standards, a mixed workforce with more freedom and flexibility doesn’t have to lead to unengaged employees who feel isolated and disconnected. VR headsets and Wi-Fi can make a huge difference to your employees by showing that you embrace the technology as well as their needs.
Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series on HR+VR. first article It explores the benefits and opportunities of blending human capital and the metaverse.