Virtual reality (VR) technology is transforming the way we approach training in various industries.
With its immersive, interactive, and personalized nature, VR training offers several benefits in comparison to traditional training methods—engaging employees, and offering organizations a powerful new training modality.
In this blog, we will explore the advantages of VR training and discuss its applications.
Advantages of VR Training covered in this blog post:
One of the primary advantages of VR training is that it creates a safe and controlled learning environment for learners.
You’ll often hear people refer to VR training as a “safe place to fail.” That’s because in virtual reality learning simulations employees are free to practice skills development and see the cause and effect relationships of their actions, but without suffering any real world consequences. This type of scenario-based learning helps learners make meaning of their training experiences, and to become more familiar with navigating high stakes situations—familiarity that translates to better performance in the real world.
These are just a few examples of situations where practicing in virtual reality gives professionals risk-free practice repetitions before doing their jobs in the real world.
VR training can also save organizations a significant amount of money. Traditional training methods often require expensive equipment, facilities, and trainers.
With VR training, learners can access training modules from anywhere, reducing the need for physical facilities, travel costs, and equipment.
Additionally, VR training can be repeated multiple times at no additional cost vs. classroom learning sessions and role play, which have a cost associated with every session.
For example, off-the-shelf VR training modules are pre-made and ready to be used repeatedly by learners. And while custom VR learning modules have an initial resource investment to create the content, they are then reusable—providing a cost-effective solution for employee training and development.
Another one of the advantages of VR training is the fact that it offers emotionally realistic learning experiences.
Making role play scenarios with actors feel realistic is challenging, as trainees may feel awkward or pressured during the real-world simulation. And e-learning content formats like video or presentations lack engagement. VR training is able to emotionally stimulate learners, enabling them to feel the real emotions that would coincide with a workplace scenario in the real world.
Examples include the stress that comes from facing a performance feedback conversation with a direct report as a manager, or the frustration a customer service employee must face and regulate while talking to a customer who is emotionally elevated.
This “Effective Performance Feedback” VR training module demonstrates the emotional realism that can be delivered with VR training. In this scenario, managers are able to practice delivering performance feedback to an employee via a simulated conversation that features emotionally realistic role play.
In VR soft skills training simulations learners engage in role play with virtual human characters. These characters exhibit realistic speech, body language, and mannerisms, enabling employees to have experiences that feel real in virtual reality.
And the results reflect this. The aforementioned study by PwC revealed that VR learners felt:
With virtual reality training, organizations have a training modality that is scalable (see below) while delivering increased emotional realism in comparison to traditional learning methods.
VR training offers a high level of employee engagement and interaction, leading to increased retention of information.
In VR training modules learners explore and interact with virtual simulations, making the learning experience more memorable and enjoyable. For example, a study by the University of Maryland found that participants who learned in a VR environment had an 8.8% improvement in their retention of information compared to traditional classroom learning.
Paired with results like VR trained learners being up to 4x more focused during training and learning 4x faster, it’s clear why virtual reality presents itself as a tool for delivering better training engagement.
VR training’s engagement goes beyond engagement in specific training scenarios, and can lead to improved workforce engagement at the organizational level.
Research shows that employees seek employers who demonstrate a vested interest in their professional development. A report from SHRM revealed that 76% of surveyed employees say they are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training, and 84% of employees say it is important to them to get training on soft skills specifically.
VR training is an avenue for organizations to demonstrate the interest employees want to see their employers take in their skills development. It serves as an example of innovation and a commitment to employee upskilling and reskilling.
For example, Farmers Insurance saw potential employees take note of their investment in VR training technology:
“We understand the insurance industry may not always be top of mind for candidates exploring career opportunities. However, since Farmers® began its early adoption and application of virtual reality to train employees, we’ve heard from potential talent on numerous occasions their interest in being part of an organization that is using VR and other cutting edge technology to help better the employee and customer experience.” – Ginger Fields, Head of Talent for Farmers Insurance®
With these factors in mind, one of the advantages of VR training is attracting new employees while helping to better engage and retain current employees. This is thanks to the fact that companies that invest in VR training are demonstrating an investment in their people and an eye toward innovation—and employees are taking note.
Another advantage of VR training is its flexible and scalable deployment.
In the early days of VR training’s adoption there were challenges and questions regarding how to best implement it within an organization. Now there are standardized deployment methods that have been tried and tested by hundreds of organizations, including Accenture, PwC, AIA, SAP and JFF, Farmers Insurance, and Tower Hill Insurance.
Today organizations interested in adopting VR training can choose between several proven deployment options.
The marquee deployment method is using virtual reality head mounted displays (HMDs) like the Meta Quest.
These devices can be:
VR training can be deployed in several ways, including distributing VR HMDs to remote employees, or using browser based streaming on desktop devices.
Desktop browser streaming is another option, with immersive learning modules able to be deployed to laptops and desktop computers—these are devices employees likely already have access to, making streaming to 2D devices a fast and efficient way for an organization to start adopting immersive learning.
When consuming an immersive learning module on a desktop device, learners use their voices to navigate the learning simulation. This provides a level of engagement that goes beyond e-learning, while delivering training in a highly scalable format.
Each of these deployment options can be scaled within an organization, and present different advantages, giving you options for finding the deployment method that best suits your VR training program goals.
VR training has several advantages over traditional training methods. For example, it can offer an engaging and interactive learning experience that can lead to better learning outcomes for employees. It also provides a safe place to fail and can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, which can be especially beneficial for remote learners or those who may have difficulty attending in-person training sessions.
VR training can also be more cost-effective than traditional training methods, as it can reduce the need for expensive equipment and facilities and can save on travel and accommodation costs.
The pros of virtual training include enhanced engagement, realistic simulations, cost-effectiveness, accessibility, safer learning environments, and flexibility.
However, virtual training can also have some cons, such as an initial learning curve for understanding the technology, and time needed to research solution providers for VR training platforms.
While VR training offers several advantages, it also presents some challenges. One of the main challenges is the initial learning curve for organizations and employees. With VR training being new as far as standard training methods go, learning and development.
Additionally, not all learners may be comfortable with the immersive and interactive nature of VR training, which could hinder their learning experience. However, as VR technology becomes more affordable and accessible, these challenges are expected to diminish.
Virtual Reality training offers several advantages over traditional training methods. It creates a safe and controlled environment, is cost-effective, increases engagement and retention, and is flexible and scalable.
As organizations look for more innovative and effective ways to train their employees, VR training is a viable option that offers a unique and engaging learning experience.