Employers of all sizes are recognizing the benefits of virtual reality (VR) technology for learning and development. It may sound like something out of science fiction, but VR technology is highly advanced, affordable, and practical.
Companies like Walmart and Honeywell are using it for job training and enhancing employee knowledge. Healthcare workers have run through VR simulations for years, and now communications giants like Verizon are using it to train customer service representatives.
If your company is thinking about a new way to approach L&D, consider these reasons to pursue VR training:
VR Employee Training Is Affordable
Using virtual reality for corporate training wasn’t feasible decades ago. Development of the technology was in its early stages and the limited availability of units made costs astronomical.
But that reality has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic even played a role in this shift. A VR version of Zoom called Spatial experienced a 1,000% increase in the use of its platform since March 2020. Employers started using it during the quarantine to facilitate collaboration.
The total value of the market for VR business equipment is expected to increase from $829 million to $4.26 billion by 2023, according to ARtillery Intelligence and reportedy by CNBC. It’s already being used in several industries including law enforcement, aviation, healthcare, and retail. As the use of VR continues to expand, the price of VR headsets has fallen to about $1,000 or less per unit.
The biggest cost for any interested company would be the creation of a customized VR training program from scratch, which ranges between $50,000 to $150,000. While it seems like a steep investment in the beginning, it equates to cost savings depending on company size and the amount of training performed.
Low-Risk, High-Quality Training Opportunities
One benefit of using VR is the ability to provide high-quality training with low risk to an employee. Virtual reality training for police officers is one example of this.
Effective police training can prevent injuries or fatalities in the field. VR training allows officers to experience various volatile situations without the risk of actually being harmed. The idea is to teach them how to effectively handle the situation.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Office, for example, implemented the Multiple Interaction Learning Option Range Pro system. It doesn’t use headsets but rather a 300-degree immersive VR program featuring three large flat-screen panels.
Each simulation is designed to be as real as possible and trainers can switch to new scenarios in minutes. Afterward, they sit down with officers to discuss their actions and provide valuable feedback.
This type of low-risk training is also helpful in healthcare or industries, where minor mistakes have serious consequences. Companies in retail or customer service are even using it to prepare employees for problematic customers.
Higher Retention With Virtual Reality Learning
Have you ever heard of learning-by-doing? It’s the best way to learn new information or to develop skills, and it’s exactly what VR offers. Research shows that the retention rate for learning through virtual reality is 75%.
Company L&D has traditionally leaned heavily on lectures or audio-visual presentations. But this same research has indicated that employees will only retain 5% of what they hear during a training session and 20% of what they see in a PowerPoint presentation or across a computer module.
How could this be true? The answer lies in how the human brain collects and organizes new information. VR is such an effective learning tool because it incorporates multiple senses at the same time. The brain records all this sensory input into a “mental map” that is wired through multiple sections of the brain. The input is far more likely to stick.
The only potential downside is that some employees may experience vertigo, which could delay their learning or prevent them from using the system.
Bring Your L&D Into the 21st Century
VR employee training can be beneficial for your company. While it’s a larger investment at the outset, it can save you money by not having to pay for speakers, training costs, or tuition for educational programs.
The technology is cheaper and more accessible than it’s ever been, and research shows that your employees will retain 75% of what they learn in a VR environment.
Do you like the idea of using VR but you’re still on the fence? You could pilot a program at your company with a single training and lower cost equipment. If the feedback is positive, then you can suggest contracting with an instructional design company to custom-build a program.
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