Enterprise Mobility & the Connected Worker Blog

The New Reality of Employee Training: Virtual Reality

by Elliot Mintz | 9/27/2023

For years, industries have been plagued by inefficient onboarding, training, and knowledge transfer. Traditional training methods have proven to be not only slow, unengaging, and ineffective, but costly and even dangerous for industries such as retail, healthcare, and manufacturing.

VDC Research's 2022 Buyer Behavior Guide asked companies to rate their experience preparing new mobile workers from 1(no challenge) to 5(significant challenge). Across the retail, healthcare, and manufacturing industries, 86.43% responded 3 or higher on “time required to fully train/onboard new employees” and 85.33% responded 3 or higher on “knowledge transfer to new hires.” Slow and inefficient training can cost companies thousands of hours of productive work and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Cost of Lost Productive Hours

Sources: VDC Buyer Behavior Guide (2022) and Bureau of Labor Statistics

VR (Virtual Reality) training has been statistically shown to improve recruitment and onboarding processes within companies and some big names have already gathered data on its benefits. In 2018, Honeywell reported that simulating specific job activities through virtual environments led to a 150% reduction in length of technical training, and a 100% improvement in skill retention. These rewards have only increased with the advancements in VR technology. HP found that the impact of VR led to a 30% improvement in training overall. Many studies have backed up VR’s ability to quickly and effectively engage and train new employees with more benefits including improved memory retention and higher initial job satisfaction.

VR training is particularly useful in industries, such as healthcare and manufacturing, where standard training can come with high-risk situations. In the medical field, VR can allow for risk-free 3D simulations of real-life scenarios and complex situations that may arise. Practicing emergency situations and learning from mistakes with no harm done to people or property is a valuable asset of VR training. In manufacturing, employees can be virtually trained to operate machinery and troubleshoot problems without making costly mistakes that could damage real life equipment. In retail, employees can practice working through unique customer needs, and prepare for holiday rushes and other high-pressure situations. Another benefit of training employees using VR is the potential for data collection. It is easy for employers to collect data from VR training and use it to enhance training feedback and make program adjustments.

Although VR training comes with its benefits, it will not be easy for every company to convince employees and stakeholders to take advantage of the technology. The initial investment of purchasing VR headsets and time it may take to integrate VR with existing Learning Management Systems (LMS) could be an obstacle for some companies. Ease of use and ergonomics will become key deciding factors in device purchasing, as employees may be averse to wearing headsets for extended periods of time if they are uncomfortable or disorienting.

Despite these potential challenges, VR is a booming market with an expected $125 billion dollar growth through 2024 and the technology is decreasing in price and rising in availability. Headsets are becoming more comfortable, and shorter training sessions with breaks in between can be implemented while still saving time overall. VR training is also consistently repeatable, giving it a high potential for Return on Investment (ROI), especially for industries where VR eliminates the risk of employee safety and damage to training gear.

Case Study: Coca-Cola and ARuVR
Through their partnership, Coca-Cola and ARuVR found that implementing a VR training program resulted in complete risk reduction, a 15% increase in retention, and an 80% increase in engagement for trainees. With overwhelmingly positive results, more companies will begin to implement VR training if they have not done so already.

Curious about additional solutions to improving employee training and onboarding? Check out VDC’s 2022 Global Market for Enterprise Wearables report. The 2023 report will be released in Q4 2023.