Woman using VR to learn soft skills

A New Take on Soft Skill Development

The rise of automation and artificial intelligence has shown an increase in demand for soft skills among the workforce. Skills such as leadership, handling difficult conversations, conflict resolution, teamwork, networking, and time management cannot be automated and provide immense value to an organization.

Traditionally, softs skills are learned from repeated experience in multiple scenarios that foster a sense of confidence in being able to deal with similar situations in the future. As such corporate training for soft skills has primarily been structured as in-person classroom modules with a coach to immerse employees in difficult situations that they must overcome. It is through these practice scenarios that the learner will build experience, learn best practices and different approaches to solve tricky situations.

Unfortunately, these methods are costly and are not easily scalable. Classroom training requires materials, classroom space, and allotted time for all the individuals planning to attend. For organizations, this means that employees might be unavailable for at least a day to take training, reducing productivity. This can be even trickier, as in-person training limits the number of learners per instructor, specially training in a post-covid environment. Finally, depending on the number of employees that need training, classroom space size, and instructors available, it can really make an impact on an organization’s productivity.

Virtual reality (VR) or immersive training has already proven to be an effective training method for hard skills and is showing similar benefits for soft skills.

Virtual Reality Case Studies

Here are some of the ways organizations are using VR and immersive training to develop soft skills and achieve compliance training with their workforce.

Empathy Building


Hilton set out to develop their workforce’s empathy in order to provide their guests with the best hospitality service. As a result of the VR training, 87% of their employees changed their behaviour. As an added bonus, Hilton successfully reduced their training from 4 hours in class to 20 minutes of VR!

Assessing Candidate Potential


One of the ways Walmart uses VR is to assess a candidate for a promotion by testing their reaction and behaviour during simulated scenarios such as dealing with a difficult customer. They note that VR is “a great way to reduce inherent bias in the hiring process,” and allows employees to understand the pressures of the role before attaining it.

Inclusive Leadership Training


PwC took the initiative to understand whether VR would help their organization with inclusive leadership training. In their quest, they compared how VR would fare against eLearning and traditional training. VR by far, was the best tool for soft skills training as it was 4 times faster to train with, provided 275% more confidence in their learners to apply the skills, and learners were 3.75 times more emotionally connected to the training. 

Track Learner Performance

The metrics for measuring performance are different for soft skills but are still very much present and feedback can be provided at the end of the simulation. VR technology can track a learner’s conversation for keywords being said, how much they spoke versus listened, whether they asked questions or made statements, and their tone.

This type of feedback is valuable to learners building empathy or participating in inclusivity and diversity training. It allows the learner to understand what kind of impact their words have on others, develop listening skills, and be able to converse in a de-escalating manner for difficult situations. Other metrics involve tracking eye and head movements to determine if the learner is creating eye contact, looking elsewhere during conversations or nodding along to show they are listening.

Cost Effectiveness

VR tends to have a higher initial investment than eLearning or classroom training. However, when you consider the costs saved from implementing VR training, such as classroom space, instructor and employee time saved, VR can become the better investment for your business.

In a study by PwC, they found that the cost of VR and classroom training were evenly matched when 375 learners had taken the training. While VR training matched costs with eLearning at 1,950 learners.

VR can be more economical on a larger scale, PwC also found that VR training is…


More cost effective than in-person training at 3,000 learners


More cost effective than in-person training at 6,000 learners


More cost effective than in-person training at 10,000 learners

In Conclusion

For soft skills training, VR immerses the learner in a scenario that invokes a natural emotional response. In turn, the learner must overcome their emotions and try different approaches to remedy the situation. VR provides learners the opportunity to practice multiple times on their own until they feel confident enough to handle the situation in real life. Yet it does so in a more economical manner, saving organizations money and time on training. 

VR can recreate any scenario and can be custom built for any industry with any learning objective in mind. Truly making VR a perfect solution to any learning challenge. 

Interested in learning more about how VR can improve your training?