More and more organizations are turning to innovative technologies to differentiate themselves from the competition that is swimming with similar products, services and sales pitches. As organizations focus on new initiatives and innovative ideas, intended to drive the future of the company to new heights, the excitement can be heard from executive memos to employee hallway conversations. If there were a time to break away from traditional training philosophies to a new training dimension, the time is now!
Company initiatives involving new systems, new technology or new processes often involve acquiring new skills for employees. As companies modernize and implement technologies from machine learning to humanoid robots, the employee skill set required to keep up is significantly changing. According to the World Economic Forum, “By 2022, no less than 54 percent of all employees will require significant re- and upskilling.”
Not only are the skill sets and job categories changing during the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the way in which people learn is changing. Millennials are playing a major role in the revamped learning strategies taking place in many organizations right now. Microlearning, experiential learning, collaborative learning cohorts, and virtual learning environments are all methods recently implemented in corporate learning programs with the increasing numbers of millennials in the workforce.
Acknowledging changing skill sets, implementing training programs, and addressing the evolving learning needs of millennials can be a monumental task. So how do you know what the best approach is for your organization? The obvious answer: Determine the best approach by taking a close look at company initiatives, resources and perceived adoption by leadership and employees. Select the options that are in highest alignment. The not so obvious answer: Take a risk and leap into another training dimension with virtual reality (VR)!
If the thought of VR scares you, you’re not alone. The concept of VR and its application in the corporate learning environment is fairly new and can be overwhelming. Learning about the basics of VR is a good starting point. Luckily, there are companies testing the waters and sharing their results to prove that the benefits outweigh the initial hurdles of implementation:
- Bechtel – Safety and crane operator training
- Fidelity – Empathy training for call center employees
- KFC – Chicken frying skills training for new employees
- NASA – Spacewalk training for NASA astronauts
- UPS – Safety training for new drivers
- Walmart – New technology, customer service, and compliance training for new associates
It is only a matter of time before VR becomes commonplace in all training departments. After all, successful applications of VR are already present in corporate learning environments and tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg are supporting the movement toward VR with ambitious company goals: “We want to get a billion people in virtual reality.”
The expanding use of VR coupled with millennials’ belief that VR products will increase productivity could mean the implementation of virtual reality in the workplace may not be as hard pressed as in earlier years. Millennials are already using VR for gaming and are twice as likely than other generations to purchase a VR headset. With the expansion of personal use, employees will be less intimidated to use VR in a professional setting.
Each year the world of learning and development takes on a new form. Keeping abreast of the latest trends in learning technology is one of the most important requirements of a training professional. There is no better time than the present to take the leap and try something new, bold, and innovative! As Anthony de Mello once said, “Take the Leap! You cannot cross a chasm in two jumps!”