Soft skills are gaining more and more importance in the contemporary workplace, and virtual reality can help employees improve their soft skills by placing them in realistic simulations where they practice these skills.
As business upskilling needs grow, training in soft skills can be particularly challenging. Virtual reality can help bridge this gap. VR headsets can immerse employees in a simulated environment, where avatars act out difficult situations. The VR environment allows employees to practice learning soft skills in a safe and realistic simulation. Simulation can also be more profitable than risking a trainee losing an account or mishandling a situation.
Here are five soft skills companies are using VR training for.
1. Emotional intelligence training
Farmers Insurance uses virtual technology to train its adjusters in the identification and assessment of claims. But the simulations also help novice fitters learn emotional intelligence skills, such as active listening, empathy, and maintaining their composure when customers get angry. All of these feed into the general skill of emotional intelligence.
The company’s virtual reality program initially aimed to teach employees how to perform insurance appraisals on damaged residential properties, but now focuses on improving their soft skills during claims conversations during which customers may be overwhelmed or angry.
“Active listening [and] empathy skills are key to being able to deliver the positive customer experience we seek,” said Jessica DeCanio, claims training manager at Farmers Insurance, an insurance provider and financial services company based in Woodland Hills. , in California.
A particularly useful aspect of VR training is that employees can learn at their own pace, DeCanio said.
2. Practice Public Speaking
Many people have to give presentations for work, but improving public speaking skills takes practice.
VR simulations can provide an immersive public speaking experience in which speakers deliver their speech in front of a large crowd, a sparsely populated conference room, or a more intimate office or conference room. The VR headset collects data during practice, then grades the speaker’s presentation and shares tips on how they can improve.
Some platforms can integrate with speaker presentation materials, such as a slideshow or other visuals.
3. Development of leadership training
Virtual reality can also help participants develop their leadership skills.
Leaders and leaders-in-training can participate in VR simulations of difficult individual discussions or group interactions, such as meetings. Simulations include employees with varying degrees of enthusiasm, emotional intelligence, and performance levels, and trainees must respond to them in the most effective way possible.
For example, Walmart uses virtual reality for training its managers on diversity and inclusion. Managers meet with a subordinate who has made offensive remarks and should discuss why the behavior is a problem and how the employee can improve. This improves managers’ soft skills as they practice carrying on a difficult conversation.
4. Employee Skill Level Test
Virtual reality can help supervisors gauge employee skill levels before assigning them new responsibilities.
For example, new sales employees at HPE Financial Services interact with a customer simulation and managers evaluate their performance. Managers then assign employees to different training levels based on the employees’ VR results. If a new employee performed particularly well during the simulation, they may be granted permission to skip a few training levels.
5. Assessing candidates’ general skills
Virtual reality can also help hiring managers screen candidates. During the interview process, a recruiter may ask candidates to participate in virtual reality simulations so that the recruiter can assess candidates’ soft skills.
For example, if the candidate is applying for a management position, the recruiter might ask the candidate to participate in a simulation that recreates a difficult one-on-one conversation with a direct report. The recruiter can then decide if the candidate is qualified enough to fill the position.
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