- A little over a year since debuting virtual reality in its associate training program, Walmart is providing 4 Oculus VR headsets to all of its U.S. stores by the end of 2018 to help train more than 1 million workers, the company announced Thursday. The 17,000 headsets will open up training for associates that managers and department managers go through at Walmart Academies.
- In addition to improving associate confidence and retention, Walmart reported that VR training improved testing scores by 10% to 15%, even among trainees who watched others use the VR experience.
- Technology, soft skills and compliance will form the three main areas of VR training for associates. The company already has more than 45 training modules available through the headsets.
It's an interesting day in technology when virtual reality is selected to train workers in soft skills like customer service and empathy.
Walmart started rolling out VR headsets and training content last summer to train the 150,000 employees that annually go through the company's academy program to supplement traditional instruction. VR can help companies reduce training costs and experience new technologies or processes in a safe environment.
From the food and beverage industry to advanced technology makers like Lockheed Martin and Rolls Royce, augmented and virtual reality are carving out a greater foothold in the enterprise. KFC rolled out a VR training program to help employees craft the perfect fried chicken.
The enterprise wearables market is growing rapidly and expected to hit 10 million shipments in retail in 2022. With the influx in devices will come more data points for businesses to measure how effective training programs are for employees.
Easier means of training and upskilling workers is an important investment for companies being disrupted by automation. Roles traditionally held by humans are increasingly falling to machines, and VR has potential to reduce the friction of employees displaced or affected by new technologies by helping train them to use the new tools.