A study on the skills gap in America found that “59% of surveyed hiring managers and 89% of executives reported difficulty recruiting candidates with the requisite soft skills”, while broad industry trends show demand for lower and lower training costs. However, many businesses find it a challenge to provide soft skills training to their employees. In a hybrid work environment, employees don’t always have access to in-person instruction – often considered essential for soft skills training.
The benefits of virtual reality (VR) in soft skills training
A PwC study found that “VR-trained employees [being trained in soft skills] were 275% more confident to act on what they learned after training—a 40% improvement over classroom learners, and a 35% improvement in comparison to e-learners.” This is partly because VR immersive learning solutions allow corporates to create realistic training simulations in which the learner interacts with virtual customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders in a controlled environment.
Since these are simulations and no real-world consequences attach to failure, HBR argues that “VR simulations can provide a low-pressure way to practice high stakes conversations.”
Let’s look at 4 great ways to apply VR to immersive learning for soft skills training.
Training on soft skills-intensive jobs such as customer support and sales are done most effectively using VR immersive learning solutions. Employees can participate in realistic roleplays and gain low-stress, repeatable practice time as well as real-time feedback – without risking client relationships. An effective salesperson or customer support executive needs confidence and comprehensive product knowledge. Using immersive learning, they can repeat similar scenarios multiple times to learn how to identify cues, promote the product effectively, and address objections.
It’s tough to explain the values and culture of an organization to a new employee, especially when they’re interacting with the company entirely virtually. With VR, you can provide a realistic experience of the workplace. Offer a first-person view into the role and the work environment, and an immersive look at the company’s culture, by creating multiple scenarios and avatars of several key employees and managers. Such early immersion leads to higher employee retention.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training
How do you help your employees conform to your value of inclusivity at the workplace? Immersive learning allows you to create realistic scenarios where diverse employees interact, presenting both inclusive and non-inclusive behaviours. By interacting with multiple such simulations, it’s easier to identify questionable behaviours and unconscious biases.
Some situations, such as restructuring, angry or unhappy customers, or team conflict, are quite stressful. To navigate them successfully, employees need to build emotional resilience, empathize and learn how to diffuse the problem. Through roleplay from both sides – for example, in a restructuring scenario, the learner could roleplay as both the HR manager and the employee – learners begin to empathize better, identify stress markers and learn how to de escalate.
As remote working and learning become more common, we believe that VR immersive learning solutions will gain popularity for soft skills training. Do you agree?