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How To Build A Powerful Onboarding Program With Extended Reality

The last thing new hires want is a mundane onboarding process with an overload of information. What if you could facilitate a more interactive, engaging onboarding experience instead?

Well, now you can with extended reality (XR) technology! Examples of XR in onboarding include:

  • Augmented Reality (AR) for Equipment Training
  • 360° Virtual Reality (VR) for Soft-Skills Training
  • Full VR for Safety Training

Have you ever considered enhancing your onboarding program with an immersive experience like extended reality (XR)?

You can leave a lasting first impression on your new hires by integrating XR technology like AR, Full VR, or 360° VR into your onboarding program. XR is becoming an increasingly popular tool for learning and development, so now may be the time to consider the benefits it could bring to your onboarding program. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of incorporating technology into your onboarding process, why XR is a good option, and examples of XR in onboarding.

Benefits of Using Technology for Onboarding

A comprehensive onboarding program is important for your organization because it builds the connection between your organization’s goals and how the new employee helps achieve those goals. There are many tools you can use in your onboarding program, like traditional PowerPoints and learning modules, or you could elevate your program with more modern learning technologies like XR.

Instead of presenting a long PowerPoint with bulleted information, imagine offering a more immersive experience with XR technologies like virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). Your new hires could put on a VR headset and be transformed to a virtual world where they have to navigate different workplace scenarios like robbery training. Or, new hires could use an iPad to access an AR program that shows them around the office and teaches them the company’s story. 

Using technology in your onboarding program can help accomplish the following:

  • Keep learners safe
  • Reduce on-the-job mistakes
  • Engage your employees with interactive lessons
  • Ensures long-term knowledge retention
  • Better equip learners to be more immediately effective

The good news is, you don’t have to completely replace your existing training program. You can instead integrate XR technology into what you already have and create a blended learning program. Blended learning is an effective medium for corporate training programs because it caters to varying learning styles, utilizes multiple modalities, and leaves a lasting impression on new hires. 

XR Training Advantages and Disadvantages

The pros and cons of XR training can vary depending on the modalities you choose, but generally align with the following lists.

Pros of XR Training

  • Shortens the time participants need to learn — Digital resources require a shorter amount of learning time than traditional learning modes. New employees can learn, digest, and prioritize information more efficiently and dedicate more time to other tasks. 
  • Reduces the number of learner mistakes — Learners can make and learn from mistakes in XR training, therefore limiting the number they make in the real-world. Learners can practice real-world tasks in a risk-free environment, leading to better performance post-onboarding.
  • High level of learner engagement — XR training provides a fascinating space where learners are constantly engaged. Especially if it’s a learner’s first time experiencing XR, they’ll likely be more motivated to complete the program than if it were in a traditional setting.
  • Ensures long-term knowledge retention — Science shows that modern technology has changed how long we remember information. XR can enhance the learner experience by yielding longer-term knowledge retention. 
  • Easily manage and update with an XRS — Onboarding modalities like VR and AR can be easily updated as the company grows, expands, and changes its goals with an XR learning management system
  • Capture digital learning metrics — XR training can capture learner metrics at a large scale and publish them in easy-to-read dashboards. This way, you can avoid manually recording data from each learner’s session. 

Cons of XR Training

  • Timely and costly development — XR training carries high up-front costs, and it often requires more development time. Between equipment costs and software installations, XR systems can be a costly investment. 
  • Constant advances and updates — Technology is constantly evolving, so it’s important to consider that updates may be required to fix bug issues and keep programs fine-tuned. 
  • Users may need assistance — When incorporating XR technology into your onboarding training, some learners may need extra help navigating and getting comfortable with the device and program. 

It’s important to consider these overarching advantages and shortcomings of XR training when deciding on the right modality for you. 

Examples of XR Technology For Onboarding

Now, you may be wondering, “What XR technology is the right fit for my onboarding program?” Here are a few examples of XR in onboarding to inspire you to brainstorm ideas of your own that fit your organization’s goals

AR for Equipment Training

AR is a safe experiential learning option that is delivered through a tablet or mobile device. This modality overlays digital elements to a real-world view. 

An example of AR in onboarding is a program that trains learners on various pieces of machinery, such as a drill, motor, or engine. In this experience, learners can place the 3D machinery object onto a tabletop or floor surface and interact with it. Learners have the ability to view the object holistically or for its individual parts. 

AR for equipment training is effective for several reasons, including:

  • Doesn’t take up real-world equipment — Learners can examine objects and their individual parts without having to break them apart in-person. This way, learners don’t have to take up real-world equipment for training purposes. 
  • Can be completed from anywhere — Learners can complete AR training from anywhere, which reduces travel time and associated costs.
  • Learners can explore whole objects and individual parts — AR gives learners views of objects and machinery that can’t be provided with instructor-led training (ILT). Learners are able to get up close to objects and explore them as a whole object or for their individual parts.

360° VR for Soft-Skills Training

360° VR is a modality that can train your learners’ soft-skills, including adaptability, communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution. 360° VR captures real-world videos and fills them with interactive hotspots where learners can access information, images, video clips, knowledge checks, and more. 

An example of 360° VR in onboarding is creating an environment where learners’ social skills are tested. In this simulation, the learner is tasked with navigating various social styles by asking questions and listening to dialogue held among four other people. If the learner matches the wrong social style to an individual, they are shown the correct answer through a walk through of the body language, speech, and indicators that define each social style. 

360° VR is an effective modality to use for work and social style training for the following reasons:

  • Builds communication skills — In a virtual environment, learners can work on their communication skills without experiencing awkward in-person interactions.
  • Develops leadership skills — 360° VR for soft-skills training is effective in teaching learners more about their own leadership style, as well as the styles of others they may experience at work.
  • Enables teamwork — Learners are taught of varying social styles of others and how to navigate them effectively. This helps build teamwork and acceptance of others’ work styles.  

Full VR for Safety Training

Full VR training can be beneficial in recreating real-life environments and different scenarios that may take place in them. For onboarding, VR can introduce new employees to the ins and outs of the business, shop floor, process, and more, Full VR involves a fully immersive experience with real-world sounds, settings, and objects that a learner would experience on the job. 

An example of VR in onboarding is an immersive driving experience that trains learners on safety protocols and correct delivery processes. Learners are placed in the driver’s seat of a work vehicle and are tasked with adjusting their mirrors, staying in the correct lane, and safely navigating the roads to successfully deliver their product. In order to pass, learners must use the steering wheel in front of them to keep an appropriate, safe distance from the vehicle in front of them and avoid hazards. 

Full VR training has many perks, including:

  • Avoids costly, real-world consequences — Full VR is a safe experiential learning modality that allows learners to learn through experience without facing expensive, potentially fatal real-world hazards.
  • Can simulate real-life emergencies — Learners can experience real-world scenario-based learning and test the do’s and don’ts when emergencies occur. 
  • Allows for large-scale operations and technical practice — Multiple learners can operate large machinery and perform technical tasks all at once instead of having to wait for others to finish. 

Are You Ready to Incorporate XR into Your Onboarding Program?

Integrating any sort of XR into your onboarding program can leave a lasting impression on your new employees and excite them throughout the process of joining your organization. XR not only demonstrates your modern sensibilities, but also enhances the overall learning experience of new employees. 

As XR’s popularity continues to grow, it may be time to consider if adding XR to your onboarding program is the right fit for you and your organization.

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