Virtual reality is integral in the new era of employee training.
Police, military and rescue workers now use VR to master skills in dangerous situations without the need to go into an actual danger zone.
But there’s also an area of training where HR may find VR useful. And, while it might be far from combat, the experience might just be as harrowing if handled incorrectly: how to fire an employee.
VR company Talespin has developed its proprietary Virtual Human Technology to help managers learn the proper handling of employee terminations.
READ MORE: The shifting reality of employee training
Trainees wear a headset and take part in a simulated conversation with Barry, a virtual human who is about to receive news of his dismissal.
Looking much like any modern video game character, virtual humans are “AI characters that fluidly converse with users, display realistic emotion, and understand context,” the company describes.
Imagine playing a VR game – only this time you aren’t exactly facing zombies or soldiers on the battlefield, but a representation of the 21st century employee and you are in a corporate setting.
The platform, according to Talespin, provides “exposure to difficult conversations in areas like leadership, sales and HR,” and scenarios can be replayed in the “safety of virtual reality.”
“Users that elicit the more dramatic or emotional responses from Barry can learn from the experience and try to do better next time,” said Kyle Jackson, CEO and co-founder of Talespin, in a report on CNET.
Creating a safe space in VR
The virtual situations are designed to keep participants “engaged and excited about learning,” but as the company suggests, the technology also provides comprehensive analytics and deep insights to measure and improve employee performance.
The logic behind the tool is simple: on one hand, real human employees can practice delivering sensitive information in a safe environment – all within a VR universe.
On the other, the AI that powers the interface provides realistic encounters. It captures the nuances of such interactions.
“Virtual humans can help us become better humans,” Jackson said.
The program also offers other training scenarios, such as giving feedback, discussing company policy, or even negotiating a deal.
Talespin draws upon a variety of nascent technologies to create a character as sophisticated as Barry: from natural language processing to gamification metrics.
Ultimately, the platform aims to develop critical skills of the future, such as emotional intelligence, interpersonal communication, empathy and leadership.