Today’s talent can come from all over the world. Digital connectivity has melted geographic barriers, opening up a borderless talent market. Mastery of culture is essential for a successful workforce and the foundation of this fluid workplace are emotionally intelligent workers. Well-honed interpersonal skills increase cooperation and collaboration, enhancing an organization’s safety, resilience, well-being, and ultimately productivity. In the area of learning and development, an estimated $60 billion is spent on such soft skills training.
Whether co-located or dispersed, teams of employees need emotional intelligence education to be good corporate citizens. Emotionally intelligent leaders cultivate a sense of belonging through higher levels of trust, cooperation, and flexibility. Teammates benefit because these three attributes enhance cooperation and collaboration, which creates a positive and psychologically safe environment. A growth mindset requires a flexible and open-minded learning context where learners can stretch and explore their ability to bend and bounce in multiple situations. This can be accomplished both in person and through digital methods that contextualize the worker’s environment, extending beyond geographic barriers.
The challenge of any organizational culture education strategy is the investment of time. This resistance to investment is driven by the reduction in productivity that occurs during educational events. How to minimize free time, whether at the bedside or at the production site, while maximizing the educational impact? By bringing the classroom to the learners.
The very nature of virtual reality ensures a standardized delivery coupled with a personalized experience where knowledge acquisition can be easily measured. Each immersive event is invaluable in helping learners feel emotions, navigate complex situations, and literally “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” A blended learning approach is an effective organizational culture strategy. It moves the development of emotional intelligence from theoretical to practical application. As learners actively engage in the training, key concepts are internalized, increasing the learner’s ability and comfort level to apply them in their specific situations.
Consider a self-paced, self-paced combination of:
- curated content in the form of videos, blogs and articles
- keep a journal for reflection and practice
- virtual training and coaching
- virtual reality.
Affordable equipment and software have enabled more organizations to use this powerful educational methodology. Examples of virtual reality applications to improve emotional intelligence and reinforce cultural norms:
Improve connection and communication. In healthcare, there are virtual reality programs simulating what it is like to be an elderly patient. Physicians who gain a better understanding of patient pain and frustration through virtual reality can be more empathetic and understanding.
Increase cultural competence. The Department of Defense (DoD) uses virtual reality to enable military teams and those who support them in culturally complex environments to experience specific cultures simulating challenging experiences.
Reduce unconscious bias. Corporate giant Procter & Gamble is using virtual reality to build an inclusive and empathetic culture by delivering immersive “first-hand” learning experiences about discrimination.
This is only the beginning. Innovative approaches to helping learners acquire and refine empathy, compassion and understanding are making solid progress. Through a set of emotional intelligence skills, greater mutual appreciation in the workplace fosters empathy and compassion, which has the ability to positively impact organizational culture affecting recruitment, retention, resilience and income.
You want to know more ? Virtual reality has been called “the ultimate empathy machine” by Chris Milk in his TEDx conference.