Is VR the solution to soft skills training?

When the COVID pandemic began, most HR leaders around the country thought the immediate shift to a remote setting would last a number of weeks, maybe a few months. But as leaders at Indeed realized they were in it for the long haul, the question arose: How do we support our employees’ ability to learn?

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One of the big challenges they confronted was keeping “Indeedians” engaged in their roles in a remote setting, without them becoming flight risks, said Wendy Taylor Wampler, director, leader and organizational effectiveness at Indeed, at the HR Technology Conference & Exposition. Learning was a natural focus, but helping employees find and devote time to develop their skills–particularly their soft skills–was made harder by the pandemic, as many employees juggled childcare, elder care and more, she said.

“Our employees’ time is so precious,” she said. “We really needed to find something to grab learners and say, ‘Look at this, give us a little bit of your time.’ ”

So, the employment tech company turned to virtual reality.

Indeed partnered with the tech platform Mursion, which provides live, interactive simulations in a virtual setting. One of the major aims of the strategy was to help employees and people managers improve company culture, coaching and performance.

“If you are managing your team with a coaching mindset, you are building trust,” Wampler said.

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She pointed to a few reasons Indeed wanted to make the jump to VR soft skills training.

See also: Speakers on Day 3 at HR Tech look to the future

One was scalability, she said. “We knew we wanted to focus on these [soft] skills. And we wanted a tech [solution] to provide the wow factor and deliver consistent high quality.”

While it’s still in the early stages, the VR program has been getting favorable reviews from employees. “We’re getting a lot of good feedback,” she said.

Looking ahead, Wampler hopes to expand the training to better support managers as the company begins to adapt to a hybrid-first culture.

“We’re just getting started,” she said.

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Nick Otto
Nick Otto is HRE’s former senior digital editor. He is a professional communicator with more than a decade of demonstrated accomplishments in newspaper and trade publishing. He has spent the past five years covering the employee benefits space and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.