Virtual Reality: the new employee engagement tool?

Michael MoranToday’s blog post is by 10Eighty CEO and Founder Michael Moran. He has a passion for helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

We’ve all heard of and probably used e-learning courses on a wide range of subjects. Outside of the workplace, you could also access MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on a mind-boggling array of topics including A History of Royal Fashion. Maybe you want to brush up on your bridal gowns before Saturday’s pageantry.

Or how about trying ‘Introduction to Italian’ now that you’ve booked a week on the Amalfi Coast? Both courses are available, completely free, on the futurelearn website

With the average attention span dropping from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds, e-learning is a proven and effective method for ensuring learners retain information. Retention rates for e-learning courses are 25 to 60 percent, compared to around 10 percent for the more traditional classroom scenario.

VR & AR: training tech for the 2020s?

We’ve become very accustomed to learning on our computers over the last decade or so. Enter Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) – could they revolutionise workplace training and employee engagement?


For this Fun Friday Learning At Work Week post we thought we would take a look at current developments in this new and immersive technology which is enabling learners to experience situations that they may not easily have access to, access information in a more convenient ‘real world’ space and increasing employee engagement and retention.

The Royal London Hospital broadcast a live surgery in VR enabling viewers to walk around the operating theatre and see the operation from different angles, enabling medical professionals from countries without the same resources as the NHS to get a close-to-first-hand experience of a complex operation.

If you’ve tried on an Oculus headset (the latest model, the Oculus Go, may take VR into the mainstream) then you will appreciate how it uncannily transports you to another world, even with graphics that aren’t UHD perfect.

VR training is becoming increasingly common part of worker training and is being used by some employers to help recruit and retain staff through entertaining simulations, arguably making the job seem more fun than it actually is!

Escape from the room, get cooking!

Would you believe fast food chain KFC has a VR training game where you to try to escape a locked room (the ‘puzzle room’ or ‘escape game’ has been a popular environment in video game culture for many years) and complete the 5-step cooking process at the same time?

While VR is still a new learning tool, it is viewed by some employers as an avenue for increasing employee engagement and satisfaction, particularly if it helps people to learn quickly and make their lives easier.

Some companies say it is improving their retention levels, such as the US restaurant chain, Honeygrow, who have developed VR tours and a food safety game for their new recruits.

Retail conglomerate Walmart has a VR training programme that creates scenarios such as holiday rushes and spills, that could be costly to recreate in the real world. And logistics giant UPS is developing simulations with VR tech to train their drivers before they hit the road.

Sometimes VR offers a rose-tinted view of the job, a criticism that aimed at the US Navy and British Army recruitment VR scenarios. Although you could argue that most training material accentuates the positive, while VR leaves a more lasting impression than a 2D video.

Augmented Reality (AR) is another technology to watch, where digital information overlays the real world. AR first came to prominence in 2016 with the global phenomenon, Pokémon Go, which resulted in thousands of people hunting down wild Pokemon (yes, they are a thing!) sometimes in far-flung corners of the world with their smartphones.

AR can work through a pair of glasses with a display that places virtual information over real objects. A maintenance engineer wearing their AR goggles can look at a piece of equipment and see information that explains how a repair could be carried out.

The key difference with AR is that the information is virtual, while the object is real, so it supports a far more hands-on experience.

Have you experienced AR or VR training?

We’d be interested to hear about your views on VR/AR. Have you used VR/AR training in your work? Do you think it’s a passing fad or a format for the future?  Either post your views or story at the end of this article, Tweet us @10EightyCareers or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Michael is Chief Executive of 10Eighty. 10Eighty is a career and talent management consultancy that helps organizations maximize the contribution of their employees by ensuring satisfying jobs and careers for their employees. Michael is a Human Resources professional, having worked in the National Health Service, Insurance, Commodities and Derivatives industries. He has worked within the career coaching business for fifteen years, both managing a £7 million business and delivering bespoke, one to one career coaching. In the last 15 years Michael has run businesses that have helped 75,000 people make successful career transitions. He is a frequent commentator in the press/media, which includes a range of topics on “successfully managing your career” and talent management. Most recent media mentions have included BBC South, CNBC, Radio4, Financial Times, City AM, Financial News, Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Grapevine and HR Magazine, to name but a few. He writes a careers column for People Management, a blog for the Human Resources Magazine and is a regular contributor to The Thompson Reuters HR Portal. Michael is known as a thought provoking speaker in the HR industry. In the last 18 months, Michael spoke at the Careers Partner International Conference, NHS breakthrough conference, NHS North West Leadership Academy, London School of Economics, University of Westminster’s Talent Management Conference, ICAEW Finance Directors Conference, CIPD learning and development conference and CIPD branch seminars. He is also Chair of the CIPD’s Central London Branch. Additionally is a non executive director of Marshall ACM, an e-learning company and the Total Reward Group, a compensation and benefits consultancy. Michael plans to publish his book “The guide to everlasting employability” in the Autumn 2012. He has just launched an iphone app “careers snakes and ladders” and an online interactive version of the book in collaboration with Marshall ACM to coincide the launch of his new business 10Eighty. Michael has a degree in Economics, a MBA from Warwick Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He holds an accreditation from the British Psychological Society for the use of psychometrics. Michael has completed the Fairplace Internal Accreditation Programme, the training element of which is externally recognised by the Association for Coaching. Michael Moran was until January 2012 Chief Executive of Fairplace and a main board director of Savile plc, the career and talent management consultancy. Fairplace is part of the Savile Group, an AIM listed plc. The Savile Group was placed 16th in the Sunday Times top 100 small companies in 2010.

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.


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