The Impact of Virtual Reality on Employee Performance and ProductivityWritten by Madisyn Villamil
The impact of virtual reality on employee performance and productivity has become a hot topic in the corporate learning and development (L&D) industry.
Virtual reality (VR) has emerged as one of the best strategies to boost employee performance and productivity through onboarding, safety training, upskilling programs, and more. Many future-oriented organizations have already integrated VR into their L&D programs and are reaping the benefits of a highly engaged and skilled workforce.
In this post, we’ll discuss how VR can impact employee performance and productivity and explore some fascinating case studies. We’ll also address common barriers to adopting VR and how you can overcome them to deliver impactful VR learning experiences for your employees.
How VR Can Improve Performance and Productivity
Companies can leverage VR at several points in the employee journey to boost performance and productivity. VR is revolutionizing how businesses train, engage, and develop their employees. This revolution is evident in onboarding, training programs, collaboration, and more.
Here are five ways VR is used to improve employee performance and productivity.
Organizations can leverage the impact of virtual reality on employee performance and productivity from an employee’s first day on the job. As the age-old expression goes, first impressions are everything.
Glassdoor research found organizations with a positive onboarding experience can improve new hire retention by up to 82% and boost productivity by over 70%. Yet, according to a Gallup study, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees.
Companies may neglect the onboarding experience, failing to realize its importance to retention and performance. They might have outdated ideas of what a great onboarding experience looks like. Employees typically want to learn how to do their job quickly and efficiently, get involved in the company, and feel connected to its goals.
Enhancing Onboarding with VR
Virtual reality helps Human Resources and L&D teams deliver fun, engaging, and efficient onboarding experiences. Before a candidate accepts a position, organizations can use VR to give them a snapshot of their role and the company.
VR enables candidates to tour the company’s physical or virtual workspace. Embedded triggers can give additional information about certain rooms, resources, equipment, and more when the user clicks them. Companies can even create an immersive simulation or 360-degree video about a role so potential candidates can see the day-to-day tasks.
These VR experiences give candidates a clear view of their future work environment and role. They also demonstrate the value your company places on investing in the latest technologies for employees.
Other onboarding activities companies can create in VR include:
- Simulations on how to complete primary tasks and use equipment or tools
- Gamified learning modules that teach company values
- Orientation presentations in VR
- Team-building activities with fellow new hires
These VR onboarding activities help immerse new hires in the company, build confidence in their new role, and form connections with fellow team members.
The metaverse is a safe and controlled environment to train employees to perform dangerous tasks. Many organizations use VR simulations to re-create their employees’ tasks and allow them to hone their skills without the risks of on-the-job training in real life. VR can also train employees to respond to emergencies at work.
VR gives employees a safe space to practice:
- Manufacturing, construction, and warehouse safety
- Health-related emergency responses such as CPR, First Aid, and Epinephrine administration
- Active shooter response
- Fire safety
- Environmental threat or disaster response
In VR, employees can train without fearing making critical mistakes in the field. The ability to practice these skills in a life-like simulation prepares them to make decisions in real life. They’ll also be able to operate equipment efficiently and make fewer mistakes, leading to better job performance.
Collaboration and Team Building
There are endless possibilities for using VR to improve collaboration and team morale. Many organizations struggle to build collaborative and engaged remote teams.
A Stanford study of 10,000 workers across several cities and industries found 27% of paid full-time days were worked remotely in early 2023. Remote and hybrid work is forcing organizations to rethink how to develop close-knit teams and effective communication.
Two-dimensional, video-call interfaces like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have been linked to burnout and disengagement. VR offers a 3D space for employees to hold meetings, product demos, team-building activities, and more. Unlike video calls, VR allows employees to catch important nonverbal cues, experience a sense of space, and interact with 3D objects.
Although many employees enjoy working remotely, it can also create communication barriers in an organization. VR brings interactivity and fun back to collaboration and team building.
Upskilling and Reskilling
With a growing skills gap and the rise of quiet quitting, companies are looking for new ways to upskill and reskill their employees so they can perform better and be more engaged in their work. VR training is rapidly becoming one of the best ways to train employees quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
VR learners train faster, retain more information, and are more engaged in the learning experience compared to classroom learners and e-learners. These benefits create an impressive ROI for companies investing in VR for training.
According to the Adult Learning Theory, humans learn best by doing rather than reading, listening, or watching. This explains why VR learners are 275% more confident to apply their new skills after training—a 40% improvement over e-learners.
This VR-enhanced, learning-by-doing experience helps employees acquire new skills and confidence that boost job performance. Picture a team confident in its ability to make quick decisions, problem-solve, and apply skills on the job.
Exercise and Meditation
Virtual reality can also be used for exercise and meditation. Employees can use fun and immersive VR fitness games to get in shape during their lunch breaks or evenings. Taking breaks from work for physical exercise can enhance brain performance and reduce stress.
VR creates a sense of presence by completely removing users from the distractions of their physical world. It also offers a calm and relaxing space to meditate. Organizations can use the metaverse to provide workers a space to meditate or take a break from work without leaving their desks.
Edsutia’s campus, for example, features a Meditation Dome. Visitors can enjoy a rotating catalog of relaxing experiences to escape the daily grind and practice mindfulness.
Companies Using VR for Employee Training and Development
Now that we’ve explored how VR can boost employee performance and productivity, let’s look at organizations already one step ahead in leveraging the technology.
Siemens is Europe’s largest industrial manufacturer, with more than 385,000 employees. Since 2016, the company has created numerous VR training simulations, such as training new technicians to inspect gas turbines and perform various maintenance tasks.
Training many technicians on these machines can be costly, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous. Siemens launched VR training programs to save time and money and foster their “Zero Harm” safety culture. One of their simulations walks new technicians through a hot gas path inspection on one of their most popular gas turbine models.
Siemens found overall training time was reduced by 66% using the VR simulation versus traditional on-site training. VR also increased the technicians’ final assessment pass rate by 13%. Their VR training programs helped new technicians train more efficiently and perform better.
MGM Resorts, a global American hospitality and entertainment company, allows job applicants to try out roles in their company using VR. They created these VR experiences to help applicants understand what the day-to-day role looks like so they can determine if it matches their expectations.
It can be very difficult just to verbally explain the types of positions or show a video. With the VR experience, applicants can throw a headset on and really experience the job. —Laura Lee, Chief HR Officer, MGM Resorts
The company aims to resolve high turnover and low engagement with the simulations. When new employees feel like their jobs are different than expected, they tend to become disengaged, perform poorly, and eventually quit. Research shows 33% of new hires quit their jobs within the first 90 days. Of those who quit, 45% say their day-to-day role wasn’t what they expected.
Like MGM Resorts, companies can combat increasing employee turnover and disengagement by giving job candidates life-like job experiences with VR before they accept a job offer.
Bank of America
Bank of America, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, uses VR for skills training and employee wellness. Thousands of BoA employees have used custom VR simulations to build soft skills. The simulations allow them to practice difficult customer conversations and respond empathetically.
You can get people to feel and to communicate in various ways. It’s one of the many ways that we’re going to help make employee engagement better. —Michael Wynn, Innovation and Design Executive, Bank of America Academy
The bank claims their employees’ confidence increased significantly after training with their VR simulations. BoA also expanded VR into their workplace wellness initiatives by encouraging employees to use VR to meditate or take a break from a busy work day by relaxing in a serene VR environment.
Barriers to Adopting VR and How to Overcome Them
There are endless case studies that demonstrate the impact of virtual reality on employee performance and productivity, yet many organizations are still stuck in the consideration phase. Let’s address the most common barriers to adopting VR and how you can overcome them.
There’s an initial cost when bringing any new technology to your organization. Many companies fear the upfront investment in VR hardware and software. However, the time and money VR saves on training help offset the costs. Expenses will also decrease as you scale your VR initiatives.
According to research by PwC, VR training achieves cost parity with classroom-style training at 375 learners, and a VR training program is 52% more cost-effective at 3,000 learners. If you plan to scale your VR training programs over time, adopting VR can save your organization significant money.
Getting Employees On Board
Some employees may hesitate to accept change and learn to use new technology. It’s important to address employee concerns so they enter the VR training experience fully engaged and motivated.
You may have a few employees who gripe about the initial learning curve of VR tools, especially those who don’t consider themselves tech-savvy. You can create user manuals and hold practice sessions to make the transition easier.
Only put employees into a VR simulation or learning module after letting them first explore their VR tools and environment. You can even design mini-challenges, games, or team-building exercises in VR to help employees get accustomed to using the technology without pressure.
To prevent sensory overload or motion sickness, limit employees’ time in VR and encourage breaks. VR shouldn’t replace all your training programs but enhance them. For example, you can have a one-hour training presentation over Zoom followed by a 30-minute VR simulation that reinforces the learning concepts and lets employees practice their skills.
VR Learning Design
VR learning design differs from traditional learning design. To get the most out of your investment, you want to ensure your VR learning programs leverage the learning-by-doing approach, embrace the spatial element of VR, and effectively utilize VR tools. To deliver the most impactful VR learning experiences, consider giving your L&D team members specialized training and education in immersive learning design.
Edsutia’s Instructor Certification in XR (ICXR) prepares your L&D team to take your training and development programs to the next level with VR. Participants gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to create VR-enhanced learning modules that meet your organization’s unique needs.
Additional tips for VR learning design are:
- Create a solid use case that addresses an issue in your training programs
- Link your VR learning objectives to your business KPIs
- Conduct frequent reviews with subject matter experts
- Use VR learning metrics and employee surveys to determine how you can make improvements
The Impact of Virtual Reality on Employee Performance and Productivity: Wrap-Up
From robust onboarding and upskilling programs to relaxing meditation and team-building activities, future-oriented L&D teams leverage the impact of virtual reality on employee performance and productivity.
Edsutita’s Instructor Certification in XR (ICXR) is designed to help learning professionals begin to integrate AR and VR technologies into their training and teaching repertoire. Participants walk away from the course with the skills they need to start designing immersive learning experiences that will help boost employee performance and productivity.
Learn more about ICXR and sign up for our next cohort to kickstart your journey to leveraging immersive technology.