Virtual reality and augmented reality will impact the employee onboarding, affecting all new hire processes from orientation to training.
Enhancing new hire orientation
There are many factors to consider when creating a training program, as 360Learning writes, “[t]raining is about more than just creating smarter employees. A well-deployed training program leads to a stronger, more competitive company”. AR can be used to integrate a technologically interactive element to new hire onboarding, from providing a virtual guided office tour to facilitating virtual team introductions.
Jet.com aims to attract top talent by letting prospective candidates experience its office culture and workplace environment at their New Jersey headquarters from wherever they are in the world. The company invites new employees to engage in a full VR experience that provides an inside look at their workspace, from sitting in on a meeting with their CEO to enjoying the joys of Jet’s happy hour.
Enhancing new hire training
According to findings by TalkTalk Business’ Workforces 2025 report, 38% of employees expect to see VR tech in staff training rooms within the next 10 years.
When it comes to training staff for their roles, VR and AR technology can be applied to replicate and simulate real-world scenarios within immersive environments. Through virtual simulations, employees can gain insight into specific workplace situations and prepare for what they will encounter at work through hands-on learning and training exercises.
This tech involves increasing information retention, providing employees with actual experience in a safe environment, and allowing for improved accessibility, as training can easily be distributed to employees regardless of location. This will save time and money while giving a complete learning environment to enable employees to be better equipped to hit the ground running in a new job in a shorter amount of time.
Examples of VR and AR in action
Industries that will benefit most from implementing VR and AR training programs have physical operations, products, and environments at the heart of their businesses, including manufacturing, automotive, medical, engineering, retail, law enforcement, and the military. Previously relying on manuals and demonstrations, and later finding it difficult to retain knowledge and understanding of the complex procedures after long training sessions, both VR and AR remove interference with company operations, saving resources as machines don’t have to be used for training purposes.
Used by notable brands such as Walmart, Google, and the NFL, human performance training firm STRIVR’s technology offers immersive learning and training for organizations to “improve reaction time, pattern recognition, and decision making” and ultimately improve the participant’s performance and preparedness, improve knowledge retention, and improve workplace safety.
Walmart’s employee training
Walmart partnered with STRIVR to integrate VR into their employee training program. The current training modules feature interactive choices that require quick decision-making and range in duration from 45 seconds to five minutes. Simulations include helping employees navigate through busy retail shopping scenarios (including Black Friday) to help them practice and prepare for navigating the sales floor during times of high volume and of high stress. AR is also used to prepare employees for worst case scenario situations, such as a store robbery.
A test pilot of Walmart’s VR program demonstrated that employees who trained using VR performed better and retained learning material longer. According to Business News Daily, over 140,000 employees were trained in 2017. All in all, VR enables employees to experience tasks and to be better prepared to handle challenges in retail by trying out scenarios safely before they engage and interact with customers in the real world.
KFC’s employee training
KFC has implemented a creative approach to its Chicken Mastery Certification program with job training simulation using VR. In collaboration with Oculus Rift technology, ‘The Hard Way’ is a virtual reality experience designed as an escape room. It’s engineered to help cooking staff trainees make the original fried chicken recipe by instructing participants through the various steps of the process. With elements of bizarreness and horror (it’s been dubbed as ‘finger-lickin’ frightening’ by commentators), it’s guaranteed to be an unforgettable training experience for trainees. Even more, the characterization and storytelling within the simulation help new employees connect with the brand and the founding principles of the company.
Additionally, VR technology can be utilized to support companies with diversity training initiatives. Diversifly VR offers custom workplace training programs that work with several VR headsets already on the market. Its first program is centered on tackling unconscious bias through role-playing and practice sessions that help employees identify biased behaviours. As a virtual scenario unfolds, users interact by responding in the moments they feel unconscious biased behaviour is present, and they are also provided with explanations around the behaviour’s impact in the workplace.