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When we think of virtual reality, we often think about video games. But the fact is, VR, the use of computer technology to simulate a particular environment, is being used more and more for corporate and professional training purposes.

Virtual reality training makes it possible for companies to simulate real-world situations, but in a safe space. Major organizations like NASA and Walmart use VR in their training strategies.

That’s because VR offers variety. You might not be working with a NASA sized budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate a new learning style into your workplace.

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The training opportunities virtual reality can provide are vast. Yes, it can train burgeoning pilots, surgeons and racecar drivers but, it can also help small and medium sized businesses train employees to avoid costly mistakes, like reducing data entry in HR.

A staff training strategy that includes VR is bound to be a hit with the C-Suite, staff and even your accountants.

Here’s why:

It’s Cost-Efficient

Virtual reality training is known to be as effective as live training, but, it’s considerably less costly.

The upfront costs for VR equipment might seem pricey. But the long-term usage makes it a more cost-efficient choice for ongoing employee training.

VR removes the middle-man. Companies that include VR in their training spend less paying outside sources (trainers, specialists, etc.) for in-person sessions.

Training On-Demand

VR doesn’t just save money. Virtual reality is easy to use for on-demand training.

Generally, full-time employees receive around 60 hours of training a year. Yet, they lose 70% of their newly acquired knowledge within the first 24 hours. There’s a few reasons for this, but namely, people are consuming greater amounts of information at a faster pace (thanks internet!).

This over consumption of information has negatively impacted our attention spans. In 2000 the average attention span was around 12 seconds. Last time scientists checked (back in 2015), it had dropped to around 8 seconds—that’s less than a goldfish.

How can companies, focused on employee training and development, fight against barely-there attention spans?

Research suggests offering training on-demand, and in small, easy-to-consume chunks works best.

Virtual reality training programs can be designed to adhere to this style of learning. Using VR to provide, quick, on-demand training sessions lets companies connect with their increasingly tech-savvy workforce.

This kind of flexibility encourages ongoing training, without employees losing large chunks of time out of their workday, which can impact overall productivity. And, of course, these small learning bursts work with dwindling attention spans.

Speed Up Skill Development

In 2017, scientists determined that the best way to learn a new skill fast is to slightly modify how you practice it. Virtual reality training can help.

VR training educates employees in a wholly unique manner. It can also be used to learn, practice and master new skills.

VR training modules speed up the learning and skill developing process. VR saves time. New hires learn from the VR program—this means hiring managers gain more time to focus on the rest of their team as their new employees train for their new job.

It’s Fun

Winston Churchill once said, “Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught”. This quote is a perfect example of a lot of adult learners.

Research shows that adult learning can be rather selective—meaning, most adults are only interested in learning what they’re interested in. It’s a weird Catch-22.

But knowing this fact, coupled with the importance of employee training and professional development, it’s important to find ways to make the learning and training experience enjoyable, and dare we say—fun.

You might think that sounds trivial, but it’s not. When learning activities are designed as fun— even joyful experiences, learners retain more knowledge. Also, when we perceive an activity as fun, we’re more likely to engage. And engagement is key when it comes to training.

Virtual Reality is a unique way for employees to learn.

 VR as Part of Your Learning Strategy

Virtual Reality training plays to our creative minds—it activates different parts of the brain, making learning fun and actionable.

While it can and should be incorporated into corporate training practices, it’s not the only form of training organizations should provide. Remember, people learn in different ways. But also, those shrinking attention spans we talked about earlier suggest variety is important when it comes to ongoing professional development and training.

Incorporating VR training along with a modern HR tool, that includes modules for onboarding, talent and learning, offers employees a stronger, well-rounded learning experience.

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Meghan Vallis

Meghan Vallis

Meghan Vallis is the Senior Vice-President of Consulting at Apri Insurance Services Inc. Responsible for leading the national consulting team, Meghan guides Apri’s strategic initiatives and consultants’ development activities. She is based in their Vancouver office. Meghan has over a decade of experience in the group benefits industry where she worked in a number of different areas of the business. She is passionate about helping companies succeed by leveraging technology to transform the HR experience from administrative to strategic. Meghan holds the status of secretary and board member of the BC Chapter of the ISCEBS, holds a CPE-compliant CEBS designation, and is considering the CEBS Fellow. When she’s not at work, you’ll find her skiing at Sun Peaks, trying not to fall off her bike, or living vicariously through other people’s pets.