By H. E. James
Most people read the words, “virtual reality,” and they immediately think of video games. In fact, virtual reality (VR) has its roots in science fiction and movies. Virtual reality (VR) as many of us wasn’t created until the late 60s. This is when the first head-mounted display was created, and now we have VR conduits like the Oculus Rift and even Google cardboard that make VR accessible to industries other than gaming.
One industry that is benefiting from the new accessibility of modern VR is training. Instead of using traditional methods of a PowerPoint and a multiple-choice test to train employees, human resources departments have a more hands-on method at their disposal. However, HR can still keep the training wheels on for employees who may need some more scaffolding.
If your HR department is working on education employees on new skills, look to the example of how Veterans Administration researchers and their partners used VR to bolster job skills for veterans with PTSD.
The study provided veterans with virtual reality human resources representative who interviewed them, adapting her interactions with them based on their answers. Because the simulation is adaptive, the vets’ performance boosted not only their self-confidence, but it honed their skills.
This model can be adapted by HR units for multiple skill trainings, from new software to refining customer service skills for a department.
In addition to bolstering the skills of hires already on payroll, VR can be used for new hire training. A university in Florida is already using VR to teach educators-in-training. While this virtual classroom training is optional, HR departments could easily adapt this model to train new hires.
Use VR programming and hardware to create simulations of working environments that may be highly unique to a position. While many administrative positions look alike, training for a position
like an inspector or a lead generator would require more refined training.
If you are training someone who will be administering meetings frequently, VR is a great way to run a simulation of both large- and small-scale meetings, from beginning to end, or even hold them. This is especially effective if meetings involve a lot of technology or can be unpredictable, like with public meetings. The adaptability of VR can be enhanced to simulate the same unpredictability of a monitor that won’t work or a crowd that gets agitated about a project proposal.
Because VR simulations generate massive amounts of data, HR units would be remiss in not using this data to their advantage. While data can be used cross-functionally to measure the performance of an organization, data generated in an HR training can be analyzed to measure the performance of a particular employee.
This granular data analysis is a great way to use VR data to improve performance management in the business. Observing the VR simulations or taking part in them is also a great way to measure performance.
If you aren’t going to take part, just watching the body language of a recruit or an employee during a simulation will give you ample information. At the same time, take physical reactions to a virtual simulation with a grain of salt. While a recruit might be uncomfortable wearing a VR headset, she might not be uncomfortable dealing with a real upset customer.
It’s a Match
While it’s likely not yet a perfect match, VR and HR are indeed a match. By looking at how other industries and business units are using the technology, HR can harness its power to do a multitude of great things.
VR has the potential to train new hires, build skills, and improve performance and do so affordably. Start building your training simulations now.