Mind Blowing Employee Training

Thank you all for your comments on my Food Reality Presentation, the use of Virtually Reality and Augmented Reality in the food industry (no, really thank you, your feedback was great!). Many of your comments revolved around the Kentucky Fried Chicken Virtual Reality training and so I thought I would dig in deeper to gain a better understanding on the use of VR for employee training. 

But first a little bit more on the KFC training… It is not only a VR experience, it is a Virtual Reality Escape Room! Totally cool, slightly creepy, most definitely memorable. From a recent Eater article, “The press release notes that this VR exercise takes workers through the chicken cooking process in just 10 minutes, as opposed to the 25 minutes it takes IRL, so perhaps the idea here is to speed up the training process (and to avoid potentially wasting product). Or hey, maybe somebody at KFC HQ just got a really good deal on a whole pallet of Oculus Rifts.” A KFC spokesperson goes on to say that “VR won’t replace hands-on experience: “The game is intended to supplement the existing Chicken Mastery program, not replace it…This is intended to be a fun way to celebrate the work KFC’s more than 19,000 cooks do every day in every restaurant across the U.S. in an engaging way.”

I’d be totally interested to hear the perspective of a KFC employee, so if anyone knows a  Colonel Sanders disciple, certainly ask them about the VR experience. Also ask them about the Chicken Mitten Bucket Hugger. I am just curious, you know?

But back to reality. According to a Harvard business Review Article here are a few specific use cases for VR training: 

Efficient ways to learn procedure: There are findings that support the equivalence of VR training to face-to-face training, hence our five step fried chicken procedure. Furthermore there are additional benefits including the economic savings of VR, and the decreased amount of time needed to train with VR compared to traditional techniques.

A safe place to learn soft skills: This is something new that I was not able to speak about in my presentation! There is an increased demand for soft skills, and VR offers the perfect opportunity to enhance these skills. According to HBR, “it is immersive enough for people to take the training seriously, but also a safe environment where learners are less self-conscious about speaking frankly compared to talking to real people.” A real obvious one here is problem solving, it’s totally feasible to imagine some problem solving activity, perhaps a game, being taught through VR.

I came across a phenomenal survey by PWC that set out to answer How VR measures up as a training tool for soft skills. The survey had five main findings. 

  1. Employees in VR courses can be trained up to four times faster.

With staffing shortages left and right, this will be important as companies look to onboard new employees as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

  1. VR learners are more confident in applying what they’re taught.

Confidence comes from being able to practice, and VR allows users to practice in a stress free environment. For example, imagine practicing a presentation in a virtual setting before having to speak in front of a large audience. As someone who is currently taking the public speaking course, I cannot emphasize enough how much more confident I am when I take the time to practice.

  1. Employees are more emotionally connected to VR content.

“People connect, understand and remember things more deeply when their emotions are involved. Simulation-based learning in VR gives individuals the opportunity to feel as if they’ve had a meaningful experience.”

  1. VR learners are more focused.

Personally, this was my favorite finding! Simulations and immersive experiences command the individual’s vision and attention. How many times have you completed a company mandated training while also pursuing Instagram? You don’t actually have to answer but I am sure it has happened. 

  1. VR learning can be more cost-effective at scale.

In the past VR was expensive, but we are seeing costs decrease both for the hardware components as well as the cost to actually produce the VR content as more companies invest in the technology. Through 2024, $125 billion growth is expected in the AR/VR field!

I believe that these findings warrant the use of VR training. Especially knowing that, the average U.S. company spends approximately $1,111 on training per employee per year. What do you think? Have you experienced VR training, how did it compare to more traditional training methods? Have you seen or read about any training that impressed you? While I don’t anticipate VR training being the only method of training anytime soon, I certainly imagine we will see it’s deployment increase. 

Sources:

https://www.eater.com/2017/8/23/16192508/kfc-virtual-reality-training-oculus-rift

https://www.adweek.com/commerce/kfc-created-a-holiday-sweater-for-your-chicken-bucket/

https://hbr.org/2020/09/is-vr-the-future-of-corporate-training

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/07/21/how-to-train-employees-effectively-with-virtual-reality/?sh=621b7d811681

10 comments

  1. Egg-cellent follow up on your food presentation!! I think VR training for this type of application makes perfect sense. I also this this easily translates to manufacturing, or any other occupation in which the environment and the task are fairly standard but can involve many steps. I also think this is better than a video training as it requires the user to be engaged and learn the movements of doing the task (which probably helps to remember it)!

  2. Awesome blog, you made a seriously convincing case for VR training. I could see the 5 points holding true for many service or labor jobs. It’s funny, as companies race towards efficiency, it’s these types of roles (a KFC fry-cook, perhaps an Amazon warehouse worker), that will be optimized – either by better training humans via technology, or perhaps, replacing them with technology (think Flippy the burger flipping robot – https://www.cnn.com/videos/cnnmoney/2018/03/06/flippy-burger-grilling-robot-fast-food-orig.cnn). I wonder if companies will spend more time investing in human replacements, or training. For now, it’s great that companies like KFC are prioritizing this!

  3. Find it fascinating that employees are more emotionally engaged in VR training – would think the opposite. I was also skeptical about costs but it seems that it can be cost-effective at scale, which makes sense for larger corporations. I am very interested in how this can be applied to education – think trade schools or even k-12 education. Could the Chromebook or the new Microsoft laptops be bundled with VR headsets? Was there any data for students as opposed to employees?

  4. I definitely think for certain jobs/industries, VR could be a great platform for training based experiences (just like for other jobs/industries AR could be a better fit.)

    The gamification aspect seems a no brainer and if I had to some sort of employee training and had the option of choosing clicking through some sort of presenentation with videos and questions or putting on a headset for some sort of “Five Nights At Colonel Sanders” type of escape room? Come on!

  5. Great blog! I confess I wasn’t sure about VR training, but you made strong points in support! I struggle to pay attention during e-learning training and I know other co-workers do too. They are filled with bad acting and are just plain boring. Classroom settings have major limitations on scheduling and physical attendance. I now believe companies should invest in VR training…especially for topics that they need their employees to really grasp/focus on.

  6. You seriously have the most fun blogposts! The case you made for VR training is really strong, and I understand why — I actually found that KFC training to be quite captivating. I certainly understand the efficiency, but I do question just how strong the soft skill development is in a virtual environment. Not to question HBR, but it doesn’t make much sense to me that learners would feel safer speaking frankly — to whom are they speaking?!

  7. Had to read the bog after the pug on the tweet haha Great Post! I especially think the soft skill point hit it home. For a lot of retail jobs, there is no way to practice soft skills without being thrown in the job. VR would really help people go through different soft skill scenarios and practice it like never before. Especially relevant to customer service facing roles.

  8. Awesome blog post! I love that you mentioned that employers can use VR Training to teach people soft skills. Although, I’m a bit skeptical about how they would replicate natural human interaction and body language in a augmented reality scenario. It may have to combine with some in-person practice of soft-skills to achieve the intended outcome. I’d also love to explore the diversity training success using virtual reality. Speaking of diversity, I found an article from Perkins Learning that explains the accessibility options within VR for people with vision impairments. https://www.perkinselearning.org/technology/blog/vr-vi-how-visually-impaired-students-can-use-virtual-reality

  9. This was fantastic!! I was hooked when I saw the part about the KFC training being an escape room, lol. I thought the insights from PwC were so interesting. I used to do a lot of training and employee development for hotel workers, and while we knew “role playing” was one of the most effective ways to simulate real life encounters, employees were always reluctant, bashful or incredulous and thus it was really difficult for that knowledge or comfort to stick and then be deployed when you have a guest in front of you. My company was trying to move all training to online learning, but I found the style and format to be even less engaging and not dynamic. I loved seeing this take on VR coming in and saving the day: ” “it is immersive enough for people to take the training seriously, but also a safe environment where learners are less self-conscious about speaking frankly compared to talking to real people.” A real obvious one here is problem solving, it’s totally feasible to imagine some problem solving activity, perhaps a game, being taught through VR.”

  10. Cool post! Your comment about having a virtual audience before making a speech really resonated with me – that would be an effective way to perp for speeches for our public speaking class! I think VR has a lot of potential in teaching people soft skills. I came across this article which adresses Parkers point about how VR can change the students learning experience. Its definitely more engaging and immersive!

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2021/07/23/10-best-examples-of-vr-and-ar-in-education/?sh=50048bed1f48

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