Using AR/VR To Retain New Employees


This is another one of those Forbes Contributor columns that reads like a press release, but it shows a useful idea on how Honeywell is addressing a widespread problem of training young employees, who then jump ship–often to a competitor–once they become experienced.

Honeywell is using immersive technologies to capture the wisdom of a retiring generation and then using it to train new, fresh-out-of-school recruits, who might make fewer of the same mistakes. I heard about something like this at an Idaho mining company I visited years ago. They had an “Old Joe” archive, where retiring workers would sit in front of a fixed 2D camera and tell stories of their work, each designed to prove a particular point.

I thought it was a good idea at the time. It was the best an employer could do with the technology of 2006, when I covered it. But now we have the immersive technologies of AR and VR, which allow trainees to see, not just the narrator, but the project being discussed. They don’t just sit and watch a screen in a dark room, but they don headsets and walk through the projects to see augmented information and data.

The twin tools of AR and VR are, quite simply, the best teaching and training tools that have ever emerged. Students learn by virtually doing. They retain more for longer periods of time. They stay alert and engaged rather than struggle with outdated 2D films that would cure insomnia in most people.

Honeywell is to be commended for their thought leadership. It is one important step in using new technologies to retain, motivate and improve loyalty in newly recruited employees. There are other approaches to the recruit-train-lose syndrome as well.

For example, Barminco, Australia’s leading mining company has been commended for modernizing both its recruiting and training methods, using VR to teach risk assessment in mines. They also use VR to save the time and trouble of training someone to work in mines, and then have that person discover that actually working in the dark, damp, cramped environment is not how they want to spend daylight hours.

In short, the VR training videos allow the company to weed out people who are most likely to leave before they actually start work.

I think using cool technology is an extremely smart way of getting younger employees to feel they have joined a forward-thinking organization, but there is more involved in retaining employees. Employers note that Millennials often leave within two years of being hiring and trained, very often to go to a competitor. This is because the competitor will financially reward a trained employee to join them just to save the time and money that the competing employer has invested.

The simple solution to that is to give trainees bonuses when they finish training and start being valuable. While giving younger generations the digital tools they love to play and communicate with at work, paying them more and giving them enhanced benefits has always been a good way to retain young employees–and for that matter, old ones as well.

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