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How using VR helps to retain employees

According to this year’s Labour Market Outlook from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), one-third of employers have found it more difficult to retain staff in the past year.

The reasons for this are far-reaching. According to Gallup, 53% of the workforce remains in engagement purgatory, and are neither “cognitively and emotionally connected to their work and workplace.” Businesses that do not keep their technology current, or allow room for growth also place highly as reasons for a lack of job satisfaction. Rigid workplace policies and employers failing to facilitate a healthy work-life balance take a toll on retention as well. Not to mention, technology has made it easier than ever to spot seemingly greener pastures. Workforces of today are well-equipped to research other companies and job opportunities making career moves a relatively straightforward process.

In June 2019, HR News reported that “worldwide, retention rates across all industries have been declining steadily over recent years” and the impact of these dwindling staff retention figures are set to be costly for business. Not only are the costs associated with recruitment and on-boarding difficult for any businesses to stomach, but staff turnover threatens to be even more costly if the employee making their way to the exit is taking their knowledge with them.

As it becomes ever more challenging to retain staff, business leaders have two problems. First, how can they engage their staff to encourage them to stay? But possibly more importantly, should an employee choose to leave, how can they ensure that the business retains one of its most valuable assets; intellectual capital?

Time is Money

In the “revolving door predicament” employers need to ensure that they can train their new employees quickly without adding to the workload and stress of existing employees. This can seem nearly impossible, as the ones who can best pass on the knowledge of the business and its processes are existing employees themselves.

The most experienced, senior level employees in particular have limited capacity to train new or junior staff. Trainees are bound to miss important elements of their new role if they simply spend one hour in a meeting room trying to soak up all the information from their seasoned colleagues. To make matters worse, successful training takes repetition and support. If there are no follow-ups or knowledge checks, only a fraction of the material is likely to be recalled. 

Enterprise VR for training offers a solution, designing training environments that are created once but can be used limitlessly.  By designing training experiences in VR based on the expertise of senior staff, businesses are able to roll out training for new and junior members of their team over and over again, all while requiring significantly less time from existing employees.

Information Retention

As employees continue to move fluidly between different companies, or even different roles within the same business, the risk of losing critical expertise, tricks of the trade and process efficiencies poses a challenge for business growth. Encapsulating these into a bespoke VR training environment ensures your intellectual capital is never lost.

The information captured within a VR experience will be retained and can be re-distributed, no matter whether staff stay or go. It can also easily be sent further afield, outside the confines of a single office space. If you have a global expert on a specific part of your business who works out of say, the London office, but you need to upskill or train a team in a new office location, perhaps in Asia, this can be done easily through the use of VR.  

In addition, having an existing central training programme means less recurring admin when a new employee starts their role. As opposed to having to coordinate training schedules, build training packs, and cram all onboarding into a ‘new hire day’ this can be done gradually as new team members settle into their role. By having access and exposure to all the information they need at the outset, employees will feel supported from the start with the knowledge that they are able to revisit the virtual training scenarios whenever they need to refresh on a particular business process.

Data Capture

A typical training scenario involves a trainer or experienced staff member standing in front of a room with a PowerPoint presentation. In ideal situations there may be some interactive elements where the trainer captures a trainee’s aptitude or recall of a process, but this is usually as far as training data goes. Typically, attendance is taken as a proxy for understanding.

The ability to gather data throughout a VR training experience enables companies to continually improve the program and inevitably their employee’s experience.  Immerse in particular captures 30 messages of unique data per user every second. As users run through training, an employer can see what works well and what doesn’t. For example, if a number of employees are getting caught up at a particular point this might indicate that the process needs to be adjusted to improve efficiency. Or if a specific employee repeatedly struggles to complete one key task, this might flag up that they need to be coached on why it is an important element of the overall procedure.  

Reaping Rewards 

As employers struggle to retain their people, leaders must find new and innovative ways of increasing staff engagement. But they must also find ways of retaining knowledge within the business when members of staff do move on. VR training environments can provide businesses with an efficient, scalable way of training new hires and upskilling existing members of staff. This is particularly important when turnover is high. However, the knock-on effects of adopting this approach may be even more important: training that is genuinely immersive and engaging can actually have a positive impact on staff retention. Employees who find their company’s L&D enjoyable show higher levels of engagement with their role and with their company in general. Organisations that are willing to look for new solutions and explore new technologies to solve workplace problems are therefore likely to reap far-reaching rewards.

Tom Symonds

CEO of Immerse