5 Benefits Virtual Reality Brings To Soft Skills Training
Read Time: 6 minutes
Virtual reality (VR) is redefining soft skills training in the following 5 ways:
- Triggers an emotional response from the learner
- Trains learners up to 4x faster than in-person instruction
- Can be used in conjunction with other modalities
- Reduces logistical hurdles by reaching remote learners
- Creates consistency across role-playing activities
Did you know that more than 2/3rds of organizations have either already implemented or plan to implement a virtual reality (VR) training program for soft skills within the next two years?
While the future of corporate training is ever-evolving, it’s evident that organizations are seriously considering the use of VR for soft skills training.
At Roundtable Learning, we know the benefits that VR brings to all types of training, from technical and safety training to soft skills development. Our team of experts has seen firsthand how VR can transform traditional training through hands-on, realistic activities.
This article will explore what soft skills are, how they’re traditionally taught, and 5 ways virtual reality benefits soft skills training.
What Are Soft Skills And Why Are They Important?
Soft skills are the intangible elements or personal attributes that characterize our interactions with other people. Also known as “human skills” or “social skills,” soft skills stem from our emotional intelligence and individual character.
Examples of soft skills include:
- Work Ethic
Soft skills are important because they provide employees with a basis for building relationships, solving problems, managing time, and driving productivity at their organization.
How Are Soft Skills Traditionally Taught?
Soft skills training is typically conducted through an instructor-led training (ILT) where employees engage in any of the following activities:
- Feedback and coaching
These activities give learners the opportunity to complete in-person exercises with others and test their understanding of key concepts. By collaborating with others, participants can learn synchronously with others and correct their mistakes in a risk-free environment.
While these traditional methods allow learners to put their knowledge to the test through in-person activities, logistical hurdles come into play when learners are remote or uncomfortable building their soft skills with others. Luckily, VR offers a solution!
Read More: 6 Best Practices To Get Started With A Virtual Reality Training Program
5 Ways Virtual Reality Benefits Soft Skills Training
1. Triggers An Emotional Response From The Learner
VR can simulate any real-life experience in a highly accurate, true-to-life way. With this enhanced sense of realism, learners will feel as though they’re actually experiencing the activity in real-life, whether it’s completing an action or speaking to another person. This increased realism ultimately triggers an emotional response from the learner, which directly correlates to an increased ability to retain information.
For example, a learner may complete a 360° VR training activity for leadership training where they must mentor an employee who’s having a difficult time showing up to work on time. This employee confesses that they’re experiencing some personal hardships and finding it hard to focus on work.
By filming actors in real-life and experiencing the scene from a first-person perspective, the learner is likely to feel emotionally invested in the employee’s struggles and generate the appropriate solution based on the employee’s needs. This allows the learner to easily apply what they’ve learned in the VR activity to a real-life situation if it were to occur.
2. Trains Learners Up To 4x Faster Than In-Person Instruction
In a study by PwC, it was found that VR trains learners up to 4x faster on average than traditional in-person instruction. This is largely due to learners being more focused on their training content given their immersion in the program through a headset, desktop, or mobile device.
When learners have a VR headset on, they can direct their attention solely on the VR content that’s presented in front of their eyes. Throughout the activity, learners can:
- Use a VR controller in each hand to complete interactions with their laser pointer, triggers, directional stick, and more.
- Use speech recognition to practice their vocal responses to the activity (e.g. practice tonality, expressions, loudness, etc.).
These interactions make the VR experience close to a real-life role play by fully immersing the learner in the experience and requiring their full attention.
3. Can Be Used In Conjunction With Other Modalities
Experts predict that VR will be an effective soft skills training tool that’s used in conjunction with other modalities to speed up learning in a blended program. While VR won’t entirely replace in-person instruction, it’s likely to blend with existing learning techniques to give learners a chance to apply what they’ve learned through interactive scenarios.
For example, an organization may conduct an in-person ILT that introduces the various social styles employees on their team may have. To put ideas into practice, learners could complete a 360° VR activity where they identify common body language, speech, and indicators of each social style. As a follow-up to the VR activity, learners could respond to prompts within a learning journal that have them reflect on the ILT and VR activity.
4. Reduces Logistical Hurdles By Reaching Remote Learners
Traditional soft skills training requires in-person sessions with learners, limiting the scalability of the program. Luckily, with VR training, organizations can scale their VR training across their entire organization to reach learners near and far.
With the appropriate hardware and software, organizations can reduce logistical hurdles of soft skills training with VR. Common hardware and software for VR training that increase scalability include:
- Cardboard VR Headsets: Cardboard VR headsets provide organizations with an affordable access option ($7 – $12) that’s lightweight and easy to ship to learners with a compatible mobile device.
- Standard VR Headsets: While standard wireless VR headsets are heavier and more expensive, they can still be shipped to each learner and provide a fully immersive, realistic VR experience.
- Alternative Access Options: For learners who aren’t comfortable wearing a VR headset, organizations can provide desktop and mobile device access options through a URL.
- An Extended Reality System (XRS): An XRS is a platform that allows organizations to host, deliver, and track their VR training. Imagine an app sitting within your homescreen on your phone – an XRS acts similarly.
Read More: 5 Hurdles to Scaling Virtual Reality Training & How to Overcome Them
5. Creates Consistency Across Role-Playing Activities
As with any training program, it’s critical that organizations are able to provide a consistent training experience to all of their learners. A major benefit to VR training is that organizations can easily scale consistent role-playing activities across their entire organization with an XRS.
A traditional in-person role-play for soft skills training leaves room for differences across those who participate in the activity. One participant may look, say, or do something different than what’s intended, creating differences across the role-play. VR eliminates this risk.
This way, learners can complete the same role-play activity in VR and develop the intended skills as a result of completing the same training as their peers.
Improve Your Soft Skills Training With Virtual Reality!
VR has the potential to transform your existing soft skills training through interactive, realistic training scenarios that learners will remember.
Is your organization ready to explore the potential benefits VR training could bring to your soft skills training? Book your very own VR demo with our team today or check out more of our resources on all things corporate L&D.