Walmart has announced it’s expanding it virtual reality (VR) employee training and development program to its more than 1 million associates in the U.S.
Starting next month, four Oculus VR headsets will be sent to every Walmart supercenter and two units to every Neighborhood Market and discount store, giving every associate access to the same training that managers and department managers receive at the Walmart U.S. Academies.
“The great thing about VR is its ability to make learning experiential,” Andy Trainor, Walmart’s senior director of the Academies, said in a blog post. “When you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation. We’ve also seen that VR training boosts confidence and retention while improving test scores 10 to 15 percent – even those associates who simply watched others experience the training saw the same retention boosts.”
Walmart will use VR to train associates in three areas: new technology, soft skills (such as empathy and customer service) and compliance.
“We are entering a new era of learning, and Walmart continues to lead the way,” said Derek Belch, CEO of STRIVR, which worked with Walmart on its initial launch of VR in Academies last year. “The power of VR is real, and when offered as a cornerstone of learning and development, it can truly transform the way an organization trains its people.”
During the summer, 10 stores used VR for training on new Pickup Tower units in their stores. In April, the company announced that after a test run, it would be rolling out 500 additional towers — with some new added features, including Pickup Lockers to enable customers to receive merchandise such as televisions.
VR will allow the associates to be trained before the towers are installed, as well as teach them skills to enrich their careers.
“Yes, we’re focused on helping people do their jobs better every day. But the training we’ve designed is also hopefully training for life,” said Brock McKeel, senior director of digital operations. “That person walks out of their store with new skills and more confidence than they had before — that’s the passion behind this project.”