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Flevy Management Insights Q&A
How can the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in training programs help in reducing Change Resistance?

This article provides a detailed response to: How can the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in training programs help in reducing Change Resistance? For a comprehensive understanding of Change Resistance, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Change Resistance best practice resources.

TLDR VR and AR in training programs reduce Change Resistance by enhancing Engagement, facilitating Future State Visualization, and customizing training for diverse Learning Styles.

Reading time: 4 minutes

Change resistance is a perennial challenge in the realm of Change Management. It stems from a natural human instinct to cling to the familiar, coupled with fears and uncertainties about the unknown. Traditional training methods often fall short in mitigating these fears, as they fail to fully engage employees or convincingly demonstrate the benefits of change. Enter Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), technologies that have the potential to revolutionize training programs and significantly reduce change resistance.

Enhancing Engagement and Retention through Immersive Experiences

VR and AR create immersive, interactive experiences that significantly enhance employee engagement and information retention. Unlike traditional training methods, which might involve passive learning from lectures or videos, VR and AR actively involve the participant. This engagement is crucial for effective learning and retention, as it mirrors the experiential learning process—learning by doing—which is known to be more effective than passive learning. For instance, a PwC report on the effectiveness of VR for training highlights that learners are up to four times more focused during VR training sessions compared to e-learning, and VR learners are 275% more confident in applying skills after training. This confidence directly translates into reduced resistance to change, as employees feel more prepared and capable of handling new processes or technologies.

Moreover, these technologies can simulate real-life scenarios that are either too costly or impractical to recreate physically. For example, in industries like healthcare or aerospace, VR can simulate complex surgical procedures or space missions, providing hands-on experience without the associated risks or costs. This not only enhances the learning experience but also allows employees to experiment and learn from mistakes in a safe environment, thereby reducing the fear of failure—a significant component of change resistance.

Furthermore, the immersive nature of VR and AR can foster empathy by placing employees in the shoes of others. For instance, in customer service training, experiencing a day in the life of a customer can help employees understand and appreciate the importance of the changes being implemented, thereby reducing resistance. This empathetic approach to training can be particularly effective in organizational changes that require a shift in culture or perspective.

Learn more about Customer Service Organizational Change Employee Engagement Change Resistance

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Facilitating Visualization of Future States

One of the key challenges in Change Management is helping employees visualize and understand the future state of the organization after the change is implemented. VR and AR excel in this area by providing a vivid, interactive representation of the future, making the intangible tangible. For example, AR can overlay digital information onto the physical world, allowing employees to see the potential improvements in their work environment or processes in real-time. This direct visualization helps demystify the change, reducing fear and uncertainty, and thereby lowering resistance.

In the context of Digital Transformation, VR can be used to simulate new digital workflows, enabling employees to navigate and interact with future digital tools and environments. This hands-on experience with the future state not only aids in reducing the learning curve but also helps in highlighting the benefits of the change, making the transition seem more appealing. By directly experiencing the advantages, employees are more likely to embrace change rather than resist it.

Additionally, these technologies can aid in strategic planning sessions, allowing leadership to explore different scenarios and their implications in a virtual space. This can lead to more informed decision-making and a stronger, unified vision for the future of the organization. When leaders are confident and aligned in their vision, this confidence permeates throughout the organization, further reducing resistance to change.

Learn more about Digital Transformation Change Management Strategic Planning Leadership

Customizing Training for Diverse Learning Styles

Every employee has a unique learning style, and one of the challenges in traditional training programs is addressing this diversity effectively. VR and AR offer customizable experiences that can cater to a wide range of learning preferences, from visual and auditory to kinesthetic. By providing options for how information is presented and interacted with, these technologies can ensure that training is accessible and effective for everyone. This inclusivity is crucial for minimizing resistance, as employees feel their needs and preferences are being considered and addressed.

For example, VR simulations can be adjusted to vary the level of interaction based on the learner's preference, allowing them to either observe or actively participate in the scenario. Similarly, AR applications can provide supplementary information in various formats—text, audio, video—overlayed onto the physical workspace, accommodating different learning preferences. This flexibility not only enhances the learning experience but also fosters a positive attitude towards the change, as employees feel more supported and understood.

In conclusion, VR and AR offer powerful tools for overcoming change resistance by enhancing engagement, facilitating the visualization of future states, and customizing training to meet diverse learning needs. As these technologies continue to evolve and become more accessible, organizations that leverage them in their training programs will find themselves better equipped to manage change and drive successful transformations.

Best Practices in Change Resistance

Here are best practices relevant to Change Resistance from the Flevy Marketplace. View all our Change Resistance materials here.

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Explore all of our best practices in: Change Resistance

Change Resistance Case Studies

For a practical understanding of Change Resistance, take a look at these case studies.

Change Resistance Management for a Global Financial Institution

Scenario: A global financial institution has embarked on a transformative digital journey but is encountering significant resistance to change from its employees.

Read Full Case Study

Change Resistance Strategy for Maritime Shipping Leader

Scenario: The organization, a prominent player in the maritime industry, is facing internal resistance to strategic changes aimed at enhancing operational efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Read Full Case Study

Change Resistance Strategy for Retailer in North America

Scenario: A North American retail firm is grappling with Change Resistance as it attempts to implement a new omnichannel strategy.

Read Full Case Study

Change Resistance Overhaul in Agritech Sector

Scenario: The organization is a leading agritech company specializing in innovative farming solutions.

Read Full Case Study

Change Management Initiative in Pharmaceutical Logistics

Scenario: The organization, a major player in pharmaceutical logistics, is grappling with significant internal resistance to change.

Read Full Case Study

Change Resistance Overhaul in Renewable Energy Sector

Scenario: The organization is a prominent player in the renewable energy industry, grappling with resistance to change as it transitions from traditional energy sources to innovative technologies.

Read Full Case Study

Explore all Flevy Management Case Studies

Related Questions

Here are our additional questions you may be interested in.

How can organizations create a culture of continuous improvement to minimize Change Resistance?
Organizations can minimize Change Resistance by embedding Continuous Improvement in their culture through leadership modeling, integrating it into Strategic Planning, fostering employee engagement and feedback, recognizing contributions, and leveraging technology and data, leading to enhanced agility and innovation. [Read full explanation]
In what ways can cross-functional teams contribute to reducing Change Resistance across an organization?
Cross-functional Teams are key in reducing Change Resistance by enhancing Understanding, Communication, Collaboration, and building a Shared Sense of Purpose, fostering a culture of Innovation and Adaptability. [Read full explanation]
What role does emotional intelligence play in overcoming Change Resistance among team members?
Emotional Intelligence is crucial in Change Management for understanding, empathizing, and effectively communicating with team members, reducing resistance and fostering a culture of adaptability and openness. [Read full explanation]
What are the long-term impacts of unaddressed Change Resistance on organizational culture and employee morale?
Unaddressed Change Resistance detrimentally affects Organizational Culture and Employee Morale, leading to skepticism, fear, disengagement, and increased turnover, necessitating proactive Change Management strategies. [Read full explanation]
How is the rise of remote and hybrid work environments affecting Change Resistance, and what strategies can be employed to address it?
The rise of remote and hybrid work environments has transformed Change Resistance, necessitating strategies that prioritize clear communication, foster inclusion, and provide adequate support to navigate these challenges effectively. [Read full explanation]
What strategies can leaders use to communicate the benefits of change to reduce resistance?
Leaders can mitigate resistance to change by developing a Clear and Compelling Change Vision, engaging employees in the Change Process, and providing Training and Support, backed by real-world examples and statistics. [Read full explanation]

Source: Executive Q&A: Change Resistance Questions, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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