What do pilots, doctors, and video gamers have in common? They all participate in simulations. Simulation training is a key part of success in many professions, and for good reason. Simulation training offers the chance to practice, make mistakes, and get better, especially in occupations that are high-stress and high-stakes. Let’s dig into why simulation training might be the best approach for your corporate training needs.
🔍 What you’ll find in this post
What is simulation training?
Simulation training uses virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR, respectively) or other types of scenarios or discussions to create a realistic situation for skills practice and application. It mimics an actual situation where learned skills are critical but without the dramatic consequences if the practitioner doesn’t get it right the first time.
Simulation training methods can be used in many industries, including:
- Medicine: Doctors and nurses can perform medical procedures on virtual patients.
- Aviation: Pilots learn to practice landing (emergency or otherwise) and take-offs.
- Driving: Police officers can practice stopping cars that are out of control, and truck drivers can learn to maneuver a big rig.
- Sales: Salespeople practice negotiating with a simulation rather than a real person.
- Cybersecurity: Tech pros respond to a simulated cyber attack.
- Education: Students can conduct experiments and other activities when resources and space are at a premium.
- Manufacturing: Manufacturing plants use simulations to help train employees on intense processes or emergencies.
Benefits of simulation training
Simulations are a big market in the U.S. across all industries, and that market is growing. As of 2021 it makes up just over 47% of the training market (especially in healthcare and aviation).
But simulation training doesn’t just teach people to navigate through life-threatening procedures or perform medical miracles. There are many other benefits of simulation training.
Provides employees with practical experience
Pilots spend at least one month training in a simulator, and this occurs after training in the systems of the plane itself. This type of practice could not otherwise occur in a hands-on setting.
But simulation training isn’t just for pilots. It’s also a great way to help your employees learn and practice a variety of soft skills such as interviewing and providing employee feedback in a safe, risk-free environment. Simulation training can drastically increase autonomy and confidence for these employees.
Allows for repeated practice and skill improvement
On a live person, you can remove a spleen only once. Just like a video game can be reset after the last “game over,” so, too, does simulation training offer opportunities for repeated practice.
Enhances employee decision-making skills
When using a simulator, it's easy to see where your decisions go wrong. Because the scenario can be reset and conducted again, it's easy to make better decisions on the next try.
Creates observable data about employee responses
While training is the goal, companies can also tap into a ton of data about where breakdowns or mistakes occur during emergencies. If doctors consistently miss a certain step in surgery, or employees fail to respond in time to an emergency, you can figure out how to offer more resources or training in these areas, or change the process completely.
Reduces extreme training costs
Simulation training isn't always cheap, but allowing employees to practice in simulated environments can be more cost effective than having them encounter certain situations first in the "real world."
For example, a new sales rep who practices overcoming common objections from potential customers in simulated conversations may be better equipped to bring in revenue or avoid costly mistakes when they get into the field.
Types of simulation training and examples
Not all types of simulation training are the same, and some are better suited for certain applications than others. In general, companies may look to these platforms or tools to roll out their simulation training initiatives.
These two types of training are most used by pilots, doctors, and first responders. These can be programmed to throw different problems at the person who is training to see how they react.
Augmented reality and virtual reality can also be quite graphic. Although this may seem unnecessarily cruel if you are simply trying to train an employee how to access their email, for high-stress occupations, it's important to add a sense of reality and consequence to potential mistakes.
👉 Learn more: Read our full guide on the future of augmented reality in corporate training.
Training a sales team from the ground up or looking to recruit new employees fresh out of college? Role-playing is a great simulation training method for customer service, especially for call centers and salespeople.
Another great application of this simulation training method is in leadership training. People learning to lead in their organization may not have the soft skills that good leaders need. These can be taught by placing potential leaders in situations where they have to apply a new style of communication or leadership.
Computer-based simulations may not have the same feel as virtual reality, but they are perfect for teaching processes or helping employees learn to respond to specific situations.
Technical skills training is served well here, too. This might include things like learning how to fix an HVAC unit, programming a new computer language, or navigating a new culture.
Tabletop exercises remove technology from the equation. These are discussions surrounding scenarios that help participants figure out what to do. Think of this as the discussion that precedes the event.
For example, in a classroom setting, tabletop exercises surrounding what to do in case of an active shooter might include what teachers can do should this situation arise. They might assign roles to teachers or students based on where they are in the classroom (i.e., the person closest to the door closes it and locks it), and other steps to take.
These discussions can be very helpful when first introducing any task or situation that might be new or particularly challenging. They are also often paired with other types of training so that skills can be discussed and then safely practiced.
Need to lighten up a bit? Gamification uses rewards and friendly challenges to engage employees and move them through levels of training. It’s a good follow-up (or entry point) for other types of simulation training.
👉 Discover more: What works, and what doesn’t when it comes to gamification in eLearning? Learn more now!
How to build a simulation training program
Any type of employee learning and development starts with a skills gap analysis or a training needs analysis (or both). After that, here’s where to start when building a simulation training program:
- State the goals for your program: Whether you are teaching a call center worker customer service skills or training a new employee on HVAC installation, you’ll need a clear goal for your program.
- Identify necessary resources: Set aside time, money, and human resources to design and deliver the program, or make the decision to outsource design and development.
- Evaluate what you already have: Some companies might have tabletop exercises already set up, while others are starting from scratch. See what resources you already have on hand so you don’t waste time replicating them.
- Develop your content: These three words are one big step. You might need some help (see below).
Once it’s developed, make sure that affected employees are getting regular training on your new simulation. Simulation sessions should be fairly short, but they need to be regular and consistent.
Then, evaluate the training consistently. Are employees' scores on simulation games improving? Are nurses routinely correctly setting IV lines in their VR simulation? Are they properly navigating the new software program or committing costly errors? The problem may not be employees, so make sure to check that the program or process you are using is actually designed to reach your goals.
Finally, ask for employee feedback on how the simulation training is working. Do they feel more confident in their skills, and are the simulation training methods valuable? If not, make changes to better support learning needs in your organization.
Build your program with EdgePoint
At EdgePoint Learning, we know that turning complicated procedures into simulation training is no easy task.
Looking for a custom-built simulation that meets your needs perfectly? We got this. We can even provide an in-depth consultation to learn how to set up your program.
Get in touch today to see how we can help you design and deliver best-in-class simulation training from the ground up.