There are myriad examples of how the implementation of modern, innovative HR and workplace technologies can drive positive outcomes for employees and their organizations. From helping organizations discover new sources of talent, to facilitating employee skills and career development, to supporting the HR function with the latest technology to keep essential administrative functions like Payroll and Benefits Administration humming along smoothly, the benefits of HR technologies are realized in a broad set of contexts across the organization.
But I doubt I have seen a more compelling manifestation of the benefits of modern HR technologies than an example taken from recent and sad events that occurred in the workplace, specifically a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, scene of a recent mass shooting. Twenty-two people died and 24 others injured in the Aug. 3 incident that took place inside the store. Events like this are every HR leader’s worst nightmare, and increasingly HR and other business leaders have focused time and resources on how to better prepare for these awful scenarios as, sadly, they seem to have become more common.
In the Walmart example, employee training and response planning for such events has been supported by a new application of HR Technology, specifically Virtual Reality, developed by Strivr, a leader and pioneer in the development of sophisticated VR experiences for employee learning and training applications. Walmart, an early adopter of VR technology for use in their nationwide Walmart Academy locations, credited the technology for better preparing store managers and associates to respond to the chaos in the El Paso store.
In a recent interview with Fortune, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said “management team members and associates at the Walmart store where the shooting occurred felt appreciative of the VR training and acknowledged its benefits in the wake of the seventh-deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since 1949.
“I’ve done [the training] myself. And there’s something about doing that through VR that helps you, in some ways, live the experience and understand the steps that you need to take in an active shooter situation. Because the management team [in El Paso] acted so fast and engaged other associates and executed the plan, we all feel very confident that lives were saved and seconds were gained.”
Strivr CEO Derek Belch, from the same Fortune piece, observed, “As far as training for what to do in that scenario, VR offers a medium that nothing even comes close to touching. We worked very close with Walmart and some of their safety partners for the specifics of how we should do this. It’s not a video game.”
The fast response and courage under pressure exhibited by the El Paso Walmart team almost certainly saved lives. And the example reminds us all of the importance of leveraging every available technology to better prepare our team members for these kinds of events.
At the HR Technology Conference in October, both Walmart and Strivr will present about their partnership, the strengths and potential of VR technology as an essential tool for employee learning and development, and offer insights and suggestions as to how you might consider VR technology for your own learning and training programs. We hope you will join us at the event.