There is a certain class of employees every organization values above others—employees who are self-motivated, employees willing to take risks and try out new ideas, employees who are reliable and drive business results. But what drives highly-engaged employees? Is it an innate or an instilled sense of confidence in their skills and abilities?
From years in the training industry, we believe one tool that grants employees the confidence and willingness to participate proactively is experience; experience on the job that helps employees evolve their own understanding and perception of the workings of their business. But learning on the job has a slow learning curve and is a process that involves hits and misses; misses that may cost the organization time and money. What would be ideal is an environment that replicates the actual work environment; one that gives a learner the chance to practice the sort of problem-solving and decision-making they perform in real life.
Immersive learning or simulations effectively create this environment for the learner. They make the learner solve problems and deal with issues critical to the organization or the learner’s personal growth. Simulations offer the learner the freedom to role-play in a virtual work environment and take decisions which are safe. Being decisions taken in the ‘virtual world’ they do not actually do any damage to the organization or the individual himself. So how does this virtual environment work?
Need to pick the right fashion trend for your designing house? Assess the various options, study the sales forecast and select a trend. Watch the outcome of this decision—perhaps, you’ve picked the year’s most popular trend or you end up drowning in inventory. No matter, go back and try again.
Need to fine-tune your logistics operations? Visit each step in the workflow and tweak the input to view its impact on the output. Re-evaluate your strategy and design a new one, if needed.
As the learner replays and tries out various solutions, they are constantly honing their own mental model of how the process works, second-guessing the system, letting their experiences evolve. In short, the very same thing they would do in a real job. Except that simulations work on a condensed timeline and offer a risk-free environment.
Armed with this newly-formed mental model, employees will have the courage to go into their jobs and implement what they have learned over the course of repeated attempts in the simulation.