One of the most tantalizing regions for the development of soft skills training is Virtual reality. VR from having no commercial value a few decades ago, now it seems to be used in almost all domains like healthcare, retail, pharma, the army, manufacturing and the list goes on and on.
Soft skills essentially involve understanding oneself and relating to others by showing empathy, embracing diversity and abandoning unconscious biases. Employees can be trained towards this, but current approaches have proven to be ineffective.
VR has the innate ability to reprimanding negative behavior and reinforcing positive behavior which is very unique and relatable to the real world. This makes it easier to inculcate complex emotions like empathy that generally other training techniques fail to do.
‘Empathy’ is something that can be effectively taught through ‘immersion’ which VR provides by feeling surrounded by realistic simulations of everyday scenarios, the feeling of ‘presence is driven by immersion’ produces higher cognitive benefits that generally traditional powerpoint presentations /e-learning methods or in-person training has failed to do.
An individual who possesses strong soft skills can be a very effective collaborator and a leader.
Here are some of the soft skills that can be taught with the usage of VR;-
- Leadership Training
With the advent of VR, it’s now actually possible to implement already successful working leadership training programs that can be used to add value and genuinely add something new to leadership training. It also helps make sure that everyone has a chance to lead and not just the ‘usual suspects’ based on the way VR works. This way everyone gets to use their leadership skills and potential with VR thus, leveling the playfield for everyone.
Through a combination of psychometric analysis and simulation of events which wouldn’t normally be feasible in the real world, it’s actually possible to inculcate a strong sense of leadership in the candidate via VR training.
Depending on the organizations’ key competencies requirements even things like body language, no. of hesitation words, eye contact, etc. can be read in situations wherever there is a decision to be made by the candidate.
- Sales Training
By incorporating a high level of interaction and immersion from the user, (something which most traditional e-learning methods failed to do) it is now possible to simulate scenarios that would be circumstantially impossible to derive and thus, train an employee on.
Generally, in the sales-cycle, there is an imminent lag at the beginning for the newly joined sales rep. Until he gets adjusted to the new setting, product, etc. This time span can be cut to half with the usage of already simulated scenarios that could help him understand it better.
Furthermore, it can also have a more personalized instruction method for scenarios like objection handling which is generally very company specific most of the times.
- Compliances and policy awareness
Although this doesn’t seem as important as the others, VR training can prove to be substantially useful for training purposes such as harassment at the workplace.
People from various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds generally have trouble getting to know one another, either due to some sort of a language or cultural barrier.
But let’s say if you could spend even 5 minutes in someone else’s shoes of a different age, sex, or even a member of the LGBTQIA community, who is being disrespected or harassed, it would certainly help these candidates understand the negativity associated with the whole experience.
- Team Building
VR’s immersive nature is perfect for team building. Creating scenarios that would normally require the whole team’s effort to participate. By simulating, intimidating and challenging environments that would trigger the same physiological responses as real-world stimuli an entire team could participate and thus, create an extremely favorable team building exercise which would require coordination as a team to emerge victoriously.
Using immersive technologies more widely in the training industry could, therefore, help eliminate incidences of harassment, increase empathy, and increase awareness of unconscious biases related to cultural, gender, sex or ethnicity. The result will be a more harmonious, productive and satisfied workforce.