Benefits of VR for soft skills training


July 07, 2020 - Julian Mayhew

In recent years, Virtual Reality (VR) in the corporate world has taken a foothold. Figures from PwC suggest that by 2021, the industry is expected to grow by 76% from 2016 and will reach a value of £801 million (approx. US $1000 million).

As VR continues to be adopted by the mainstream, it is no longer considered an emerging tech fad. Thanks to greater accessibility, many companies are now embracing VR to deliver employee training in a virtual environment.

This article explores some of the key benefits of using VR to enhance soft skill training in the corporate context.

Results of soft skills training

Results of a soft skills training in VR study, conducted by PWC.

Cost-effective at scale

If organizations choose to create content and develop bespoke VR experiences, the initial costs of building a VR course can be high.

However, when using VR, the return on investment (ROI), becomes more favorable in the medium and long term, because the delivery of VR training takes less time than classroom and e-learning courses, according to Deloitte Insights.

Organizations can also go with off-the-shelf solutions, where the VR content has been pre-developed. This works particularly well for soft skills training, where the training modules are similar across organizations. VirtualSpeech, for example, offers pre-built VR training across a range of soft skills, from Leadership Communication to High-Impact Presentations.

Once embedded throughout the organization, VR becomes an attractive investment, especially when considering the cost of employees’ time and the potential to scale across larger workforces. Greater scaling is possible when VR training is cloud-based, as geographical limitations become redundant. A defendable ROI can be achieved effortlessly, as the benefits of the training spend increase.

Training cost by type

Training costs by type, from the same study.

Kyle Jackson, CEO, and co-founder of Talespin, an immersive training start-up, opines:

VR is consistently more cost-effective than other modalities when it’s used for about 1,500 employees. Factors [contributing] to this cost-benefit include reduced time to proficiency and reduced time to train because learners are taking in so much, and true retention happens much faster… In our rollouts, we have seen substantial gains in retention, confidence, learner satisfaction, and decision-making accuracy, among other metrics.

The picture becomes even more promising as VR technology continues to improve and it becomes easier and more affordable to implement. As the amount of hardware needed to run VR software lessens, the associated costs also drop, which has been evident in recent years. The latest VR systems are now self-contained, amazingly easy to assemble, and can be shipped out to any global location.

Consequently, in comparison to traditional modalities VR is more cost effective at scale and allows enterprises to save money in the long-term. This makes VR an appealing feature of any on-going training strategy.

VR training module

Faster training and more focused employees

It is noted that employees using VR complete training faster than those using traditional classroom and e-learning environments.

Employees were trained 3-4 times faster in VR compared to the classroom and 1.5 times faster than e-learning, according to training reports by VirtualSpeech and PwC. These results even consider the additional time needed to onboard new users with VR headsets for the first time (which was on average only 10 minutes).

Another favorable aspect of this technology is that users are less distracted during VR training due to its immersive nature. The VR headsets provide simulations that command the users to complete visual and auditory attention.

VR-trained learners were up to four times more focused during training than their e-learning peers, and 1.5 times more focused than their classroom peers.

More confident employees

Numerous studies have concluded that users trained with VR were more confident to act on what they learned after receiving soft skill training in VR, compared to other types of training. VirtualSpeech found that 86% of people trained felt more confident afterwards, and that 95% said that practicing in VR helped them prepare better for real-world situations. This is important as confidence is a critical driver of success, particularly in relation to soft skills.

The self-belief generated through effective VR training helps learners feel more connected, satisfied, and confident in applying what they have learnt.

VR training takes place in a safe environment where employees can practice dealing with difficult situations, which is especially useful for building confidence. For example, a sensitive meeting to manage poor performance could be practiced first in VR.

VR presentation in a meeting

PwC noted, "40% greater improvement in confidence than classroom learners and 35% improvement over e-learners to act on what they learned after training in VR."

Confidence, in turn, helps to build employee satisfaction. Therefore, it is no surprise that results from PwC indicate that 78% of all VR participants preferred v-learning to more traditional modalities. And 91% of the participants who took the classroom or e-learning course and then were given the option to take the v-learn course preferred the v-learn over both the classroom, and e-learn course.

Greater satisfaction levels can lead to other desirable knock-on effects, as noted by VirtualSpeech when conducting after training feedback surveys, such as higher employee retention levels, improvements in work quality and a reduction in errors.

Conclusion

VR soft skills training is more effective than traditional training methods, and as the VR industry is growing at a rapid rate, so is the capacity for VR soft skills training.

It is an important time to be involved. If your organization could benefit from VR training for soft skills, do not hesitate to get in touch with our industry experts at VirtualSpeech to see how we can help your employees by using this exciting technology to enhance their skills.