A Deep Dive into Soft Skills Training in VR

When you think about the power of virtual reality, what comes to mind? What type of experience do you think of or remember? Were you destroying bricks with your lightsaber to the latest pop tunes? Maybe exploring an outpost on a faraway planet? Or were you closer to home simulating a beach vacation? Chances are you went somewhere exotic or different than your real location and were able to interact with and move around this new place. 

Virtual reality is a great way to learn hands-on in a potentially dangerous or difficult to recreate environment. You can try things out in a realistic simulation before you attempt the same skills in the real world. The hands-on practice provides needed exploration, repetition, and failure to learn and grow. This crucial learning cycle is necessary for us to improve in hands-on technical skills, and other skill-based training, including soft skills.  

Soft Skills Training in VR

Leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity are just a few soft skills that we are training our workforce on today.  Soft skills are also often called interpersonal skills or non-technical skills (Indeed Editorial Team). These skills are intrinsic in nature and can be challenging to teach and practice, but training them provides tremendous value. In a study by MIT Sloan School of Management, a research team found that in a 12-month soft skills training program focused on communication, interpersonal, and social skills, the ROI was roughly 250% on the investment within eight months of the training end (Walsh).

Soft skill training is more complex as our workforce remains remote. Being located at a distance causes many traditional approaches to improving these skills to be highly challenging. Enter virtual reality soft skill training. Virtual reality provides the perfect fit for soft skill training in your office or at a distance.

Why Does it Work?

VR stands apart from other soft skill training modalities because it is a fully immersive, realistic, true-to-life interactive experience. Immersion is essential when learning at a distance. Learners can be digitally placed in a parking lot, cafeteria, meeting room, or anywhere else to make the experience as close to a real-world location as possible. Immersive and interactive environments like this provide users with an increased sense of presence.

This presence can be so significant that the user begins to respond and interact with the virtual environment as though it were real. No other training medium outside of traveling in-person to a live location or environment can provide that same level of immersion into an environment or location. This level of psychological engagement within VR can directly influence a person’s empathy towards a situation, individual, or group (Martingano et al.). We want to create the perfect environment for our learners to interact and feel that they are playing an essential part.

VR provides real-life-like role-playing scenarios where your learners can practice in a low-pressure, safe, and accessible space. VR can cultivate customer service training, presentation skills, crucial conversations, or leadership and empathy skill development in a realistic and repeatable simulation. Having learners practice and apply critical soft skills such as letting an employee go, working with elderly dementia patients, interviewing a job candidate, or resolving workplace conflicts are cumbersome and challenging in the classroom. VR simulations allow users to practice their skills, receive real-time feedback and reactions from an avatar or actor powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This AI interaction provides feedback and reflection based on the experience. In VR, you can deliver learning opportunities anytime and anywhere at the user’s convenience and allow for them to repeat the simulation, if needed for review. 

Practicing difficult conversations in virtual reality using the Motive Training Platform.

At Motive, we are always looking for ways to expand the power and reach of virtual reality. It’s a natural evolution that soft skill development is the next VR frontier. Giving your learners an additional immersive way to practice, explore, recognize, and gain understanding through repetition of these or any skills will benefit them and the organization.

Want to learn more about VR training and how to get started?
Download our guide: VR Training Information and Decision Making Guide.

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Destery Hildenbrand

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