We live in a world of high competition where any additional employee skill can be an advantage.

If companies have to choose between two candidates of similar experience and qualifications,” soft skills” could be a prioritising factor.

In fact, in the last decade, companies have been facing a rise in the skill gap. 

Studies have shown that 89% of executives & 59% of managers have difficulty recruiting candidates with soft skills. This included skills such as leadership, teamwork and communication.

Stanford Research Institute International has proved that only 75% of job success comes from soft skills, and only about 25% is contributed by technical skills.

However, the dilemma faced by most managers is the lack of enough infrastructure for soft skill training in addition to the excess travel cost incurred for attending these training sessions.

Luckily the rapid advancement of virtual reality (VR) in the last decade has given us promising solutions in the form of effective VR-based soft skill training programs.

vr training
Image by dlohner from Pixabay

In this article, we will explain the different types of soft skills in the workplace and how VR can help deliver these training.

What are soft skills?

In simple terms, soft skills are behaviours, personality traits, and interpersonal skills that people use to interact with others and build relationships.

In an office environment, it represents the ability of a person to work harmoniously and effectively with others. This is one of the main reasons employers are interested in the soft skill development of their workers.

Soft skills are also called core skills or common skills.

Some of the soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Organisational skills
  • Public speaking
  • Networking
  • Customer service
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • Adaptability
  • Listening
  • Teamwork
  • Time-management etc
  • Negotiation

What is soft skill training?

This involves training the employees to gain specific skills such as leadership, networking, teamwork, communication, etc.

Providing training to the employees to develop soft skills can immensely improve the productivity and value of the organisation.

Unlike hard skills (technical), soft skills relate to personality and behaviour and are not necessarily industry specific. 

How can virtual reality help in soft skills training?

Virtual reality, as a technology, is highly valued for its effectiveness in providing realistic simulations. The trainees can repeatedly experience different scenarios of the same situations to modify their behaviour and develop the requisite skills.

In addition, VR, with its 360-degree videos, can be launched in an interactive format where feedback is received and incorporated.

immersive training
Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash

Read: What is immersive training?

Benefits of soft skills training

Some of the notable benefits that an organisation can hope to gain by providing soft skill training to its employees include: 

  • Improved customer service
  • Higher employee retention
  • Improved teamwork
  • Enhanced problem solving
  • Better client satisfaction
  • Lesser workplace conflicts
  • Better staff retention
  • Happier employees

Types of soft skill training in the workplace

Let us take a look at some important soft skill training required in a workplace:

Communication skills

In any work environment, successful communication plays an essential role. This involves four significant components.

Verbal communication: Your ability to speak precisely and clearly.

Nonverbal communication:  this is about projecting a positive facial expression and body language.

Written communication: This includes the ability to compose emails, documents and messages without any room for confusion.

Visual communication: The ability to utilise and present information using visual aids such as images and memes.

In addition to all the above, active listening should be given a significant role, as it helps you to hear and understand what others say. Poor listening skills may cause an employee to interpret things differently, which may create problems in effective organisational functioning. Without good listening skills, communication will be just one way.

Teamwork

In an office environment, employees are often a part of a team. Here, it becomes essential that the employeeunderstands teamwork and how to function collectively. While you may personally like to work alone, it could be essential under certain scenarios to partner with your fellow workers to achieve the company’s goals.

Learning the skills of collaborative working is essential for team effectiveness

team work is part of soft skills at work
Photo by fauxels

Negotiation skills

Negotiating is undoubtedly a very important business skill required to reach agreements and seal contracts quickly.

Negotiation skills are specifically required for people in sales positions to close deals with a prospective customer and finally reach a beneficial agreement.

Emotional intelligence

EQ or emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to identify, manage and understand the reason with emotions. In the modern-day world, EQ is a soft skill that most employers seek.

EQ plays a significant role in the workplace as it helps avoid workplace misunderstandings. The better a person can understand himself and those around him, the better he can manage relationships.

With VR, it is possible to give training to employees and carefully guide them through life-like scenarios to develop a stronger emotional quotient. In addition, VR tests also help employers identify the candidates’ EQ level during the hiring process.

Critical thinking

This is the process of systematically analysing a complex problem and identifying various ways to solve them.

Critical thinking often involves identifying various solutions, comparing them and selecting the most suited ones.

This skill is a must-have for every employee as it helps to solve problems quickly and effectively. 

Presentation skills

In a business environment, presentation is used at almost all levels. This is an incredible soft skill that helps you to convert various ideas into an easily understandable form.

presentation skill
Photo by fauxels

Although presentation requires hard skills, such as mastery of language and computers (PowerPoint or other slideshow software), other soft skills also come into play. These include:

  • Creativity
  • Organising ideas
  • Effective communication
  • Confidence
  • And many more

Benefits of using VR for soft skills training

Here are some of the notable benefits of soft skill training using virtual reality:

1. Employees learn faster

Virtual reality technology can simulate real-life experiences in a controlled setting. This will, in turn, give a sense to the learner that they are experiencing the situation in a live scenario. Further, this can trigger a chain of emotional responses in the trainee’s brain resulting in enhanced learning and excellent information retention.

2. Brings in more confidence

People trained through VR have higher confidence in applying the concepts they have learned. For example, research has shown that learners who are taught with virtual reality have 275% more confidence after the conclusion of the training program.

Another study has shown that VR training programs are 35% more effective than e-learning methods & 40% more effective than traditional face-to-face training methods. 

3. VR content is more engaging

Virtual reality-based learning is the most engaging and emotionally positive learning method compared to other learning technologies.

Studies done by researchers from the University of Warwick have revealed that VR has great potential to replace traditional learning methods and create a better learning experience. As a part of the research, the students were divided into three groups and taught a common subject. 

The first group was taught using traditional textbooks, while the second was trained with a 2-D video. The third group of students was given a VR headset to learn about the subject.

The results showed that the students taught with VR showed positive emotions and learning compared to the other two groups.

4. Fewer distractions

Soft skill training through e-learning comes with its own set of distractions. The workers may be constantly distracted by notifications from various office use platforms such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, etc.

Virtual reality learning, however, is entirely different. The technology is designed to eliminate all distractions, and the learners are wholly immersed in the course content. They will be led into a virtual world until the session ends. This is why scientists claim that VR learners are four times more focused than traditional e-learners.

5. More cost-effective

VR training is undoubtedly more cost-effective compared to other learning techniques. This is because it allows companies to train their employees without travelling, saving considerable time and travel costs.

VR allows the learners to practise skills in a safe and realistic situation, allowing them to perform complex tasks repeatedly and gain confidence.

6. Can be used with other training methods

Nowadays, companies use VR training along with other training modalities. This means VR may not be applied to fully replace in-person training but, on the other hand, plays a significant part in the training.

For example, the instructor could guide the trainees on what to do if they face a specific situation. After the classroom session, the trainees will have a chance to experience the problem virtually which may help in enhanced learning.

Examples of using VR for soft skills training

Here are some examples of using VR for training employees in soft skills:

1. Simulations to develop presentation skills

Nothing can match the effectiveness of VR in improving presentation skills. As a result, many companies today implement this technology to enhance their employees’ presentation skills.

One famous company is Cognizant. The new hires are required to complete a digital storytelling course first. In the next stage, they will give a client presentation to a simulated avatar who listens to their presentation as the customer. In the final stage, the presentation is analysed by Parallel dots API & Google NLP, giving feedback.

2. Simulations on customer service training

Often the employees will have to deal with rough or demanding customers. VR simulations help in providing adequate training to the employees to deal with such situations.

One company that uses VR to train its employees is H&R Block. The new hires act as demanding customers while conversing with a VR avatar. This ensures they get enough opportunity to practice these conversations and receive proper feedback.

After implementation, the company found that 70% of the newly hired customer service representatives preferred VR to other learning tools.

In addition, after the training program, there was a considerable decline in the number of dissatisfied customers.

3. Employee evaluation

Managers are often confused about allocating employees based on their current skill levels. Thus an effective evaluation strategy must be implemented.

Thanks to virtual reality, managers can effectively evaluate their employees’ current skill levels and match themwith various upcoming job profiles within the organisation. In addition, it also helps allocate training resources.

For example, the current competencies of employees can be evaluated by making them interact with a virtual avatar. Their interactions can be considered to design training needs for each of them. 

Concluding remark

The business environment has entirely changed in the last decade. Success in the modern business environment revolves around effective communication, maintaining relationships and positively showcasing your organisation to the public.

Soft skill training is essential for success in any business. With the power of VR, it is possible to give effective soft skills training to employees with guaranteed results in a short period.

Reach out to us at Growth Academy Asia for organising VR soft skills training for your employees.