Walmart’s New VR Can Help Train Employees

As one of the largest employers in the world, Walmart has enjoyed nearly unstoppable growth for decades. In recent years, this growth has been assisted by increased investments in new technology, which has helped to make Walmart one of today’s most innovative companies.

For most people, innovative technology isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when Walmart is mentioned. After all, can a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer really benefit from recent breakthroughs in areas like virtual reality?

As a matter of fact, it turns out they can. Walmart recently announced that it was leveraging specialized virtual reality (VR) headsets to train their employees. So what does this mean for the retail sector, and more importantly, the field of VR in general?

Virtualized Training For Professional Promotions

VR has been used by multiple organizations for on-the-job training in the past. The fact that Walmart has chosen to partner with STRIVR (a company based in Menlo Park, California) isn’t groundbreaking by itself. Neither is the fact that Walmart is using the ever-popular Oculus Go VR headsets to delivered their life-like training modules.

Instead of merely training employees for scenarios ranging from stocking shelves to handling the annual Black Friday madness, Walmart is using VR training to help determine employee promotions.

This is the real innovation in this case, as Walmart’s newfound use of virtual reality marks one of the first times that VR has reportedly assisted in the awarding of critical retail positions like store manager.

How Walmart’s VR Promotions Work

For an example of how this new system is benefiting employees, consider longtime Walmart employee David Arias. After participating in Walmart’s VR test, he received a promotion and significant pay raise.

More importantly, his performance in virtual customer interactions helped hiring managers discover David’s leadership and teaching skills, which played a key role in his promotion to store manager. Traditional Walmart hiring practices were supplemented by the data provided by the VR assessment to ensure that the right person for the job was found.

This innovative approach to internal hiring helps underline the versatility of VR technology. After a slow start, virtual reality is being used in manners that helps to improve real-world situations. Such a development should serve as an encouraging sign for longtime fans of this potentially transformative technology.

The Rise Of The Virtual Reality Workplace

While Walmart may be getting the most attention for leveraging VR training, they are far from alone. In fact, virtual reality applications being utilized by other significant organizations go far beyond Walmart’s in-store training modules. For example, Johnson & Johnson recently unveiled a new surgical training simulation for doctors that uses virtual reality for an immersive experience.

Similarly, Farmer’s Insurance is using VR to train its insurance agents, and Ford Motors is gradually introducing collaborative VR to its design teams across the country. Virtual reality may have been slow to reach mass adoption, but between widespread consumer offerings and expanding corporate usage, it appears that VR is here to stay.

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