Virtual Reality: the new employee engagement tool?


Today’s blog post is by 10Eighty CEO and Founder Michael Moran. He has a passion for helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career, and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

We’ve all heard of and probably used e-learning courses on a wide range of subjects. Outside of the workplace, you could also access MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on a mind-boggling array of topics including A History of Royal Fashion. Maybe you want to brush up on your bridal gowns before Saturday’s pageantry.

Or how about trying ‘Introduction to Italian’ now that you’ve booked a week on the Amalfi Coast. Both courses are available, completely free, on the futurelearn website

With the average attention span dropping from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds, e-learning is a proven and effective method for ensuring learners retain information. Retention rates for e-learning courses are 25 to 60 percent, compared to around 10 percent for the more traditional classroom scenario.

We’ve become very accustomed to learning on our computers over the last decade or so. Enter Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) – could they revolutionise workplace training and employee enagagement?

For this Fun Friday Learning At Work Week post we thought we would take a look at current developments in this new and immersive technology which is enabling learners to experience situations that they may not easily have access to, access information in a more convenient ‘real world’ space and increasing employee engagement and retention.

The Royal London Hospital broadcast a live surgery in VR enabling viewers to walk around the operating theatre and see the operation from different angles, enabling medical professionals from countries without the same resources as the NHS to get a close-to-first-hand experience of a complex operation.

If you’ve tried on an Oculus headset (the latest model, the Oculus Go, may take VR into the mainstream) then you will appreciate how it uncannily transports you to another world, even with graphics that aren’t UHD perfect.

VR training is becoming increasingly common part of worker training and is being used by some employers to help recruit and retain staff through entertaining simulations, arguably making the job seem more fun than it actually is!

Would you believe fast food chain KFC has a VR training game where you to try to escape a locked room (the ‘puzzle room’ or ‘escape game’ has been a popular environment in video game culture for many years) and complete the 5-step cooking process at the same time?

While VR is still a new learning tool, it is viewed by some employers as an avenue for increasing employee engagement and satisfaction, particularly if it helps people to learn quickly and make their lives easier.

Some companies say it is improving their retention levels, such as the US restaurant chain, Honeygrow, who have developed VR tours and a food safety game for their new recruits.

Retail conglomerate Walmart has a VR training programme that creates scenarios such as holiday rushes and spills, that could be costly to recreate in the real world. And logistics giant UPS is developing simulations with VR tech to train their drivers before they hit the road.

Sometimes VR offers a rose-tinted view of the job, a criticism that aimed at the US Navy and British Army recruitment VR scenarios. Although you could argue that most training material accentuates the positive, while VR leaves a more lasting impression than a 2D video.

Augmented Reality (AR) is another technology to watch, where digital information overlays the real world. AR first came to prominence in 2016 with the global phenomenon, Pokémon Go, which resulted in thousands of people hunting down wild Pokemon (yes, they are a thing!) sometimes in far-flung corners of the world with their smartphones.

AR can work through a pair of glasses with a display that places virtual information over real objects. A maintenance engineer wearing their AR goggles can look at a piece of equipment and see information that explains how a repair could be carried out.

The key difference with AR is that the information is virtual, while the object is real, so it supports a far more hands-on experience.

Have you experienced AR or VR training?

We’d be interested to hear about your views on VR/AR. Have you used VR/AR training in your work? Do you think it’s a passing fad or a format for the future?  Either post your views or story at the end of this article, Tweet us @10EightyCareers or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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