Business simulations are engaging computer-based scenarios that reflect real world business environments.
Let’s face facts; while ongoing and comprehensive training may well be central to any successful business, it’s often something that’s overlooked by entrepreneurs and managers alike.
This is true throughout the Western world, while statistics suggest that it’s also prevalent amongst smaller firms with minimal resources. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, companies with fewer than 100 employees gave only 12 minutes of manager training every six months on average, while with between 100 and 500 staff members provided just six minutes of training during the same period.
This trend is beginning to change, however, thanks to the advent of simulation and the development of effective experiential learning programs that replicate real-world scenarios. But what are the main advantages of training simulations for businesses?
1. Replicate Real-life Experiences
Let’s start with the basics; as training simulations are capable of replicating real-life experiences in a safe and controlled environment.
This enables employees to gain first-hand knowledge of specific tools, devices and systems, while also learning how to utilise these in corporate situations rather than token sample scenarios.
As a result of this, staff members are able to build a much deeper base of knowledge that can help to sustain their development both in the short and longer-term.
By simulating tangible and real-life experiences, experiential learning is innately relatable from the perspective of employees, creating a far more engaging and rewarding experience overall.
2. Drive Optimal Knowledge Retention Over Time
On a similar note, higher levels of engagement and the physical development of new skills is proven to drive improved knowledge retention over time.
This is crucial from a commercial perspective, as it creates more efficient and cost-effective training and develops a more capable team of staff throughout the company.
The type of knowledge retained is also diverse, including both theory and broad concepts behind specific processes and best practice in terms of application.
So, in addition to aiding knowledge retention, experiential learning creates an understanding of context and how this impacts on the subject matter.
3. Gain Immediate and Insightful Feedback
When using training simulations, employees are able to access immediate and insightful feedback about their efficacy and application of specific processes or equipment.
So, not only can constructive criticism or advice be delivered in real-time, but it can also allow for feedback that’s easy to understand in the context of a real-world event or situation.
This certainly drives more effective learning for the duration of specific courses and programs, as employees are able to adapt and hone their skills in the moment and experiment with new approaches depending on the feedback that they receive.
Of course, much depends on the managers or individuals leading the learning, but this type of experiential learning definitely thrives under the right stewardship.
4. Minimise Risk and the Fear of Employees
In a normal training scenario, employees are often given new software or tools with generic instructions.
This highlights the significant gap between knowledge and experience while encouraging employees to hesitate when attempting to use such tools for the very first time.
When deploying simulation training, however, staff members are able to overcome their concerns by using new tools in a safe and controlled setting. Once again, trainers and course leaders are also able to answer employee queries in real-time, providing much-needed peace of mind as and when required.
Interestingly, this also minimises risk from the perspective of both employees and managers, as mistakes can be made in a controlled environment that’s overseen by a qualified supervisor. This also makes employees more willing to make mistakes and subsequently learn from these over time.
5. Access Quantifiable and Measurable Training
If you ask any manager or business owner, they’ll tell you that one of the biggest issues with traditional training and methods of learning is that they’re largely unquantifiable.
The same cannot be said of simulation training, however, which can usually be measured through the collation, analysis and reporting of data in real-time.
This not only provides HR departments and managers with far greater insight into the efficiency of their training programs while boosting the credibility of its efforts and informing the development of future courses.
It can also provide employees with genuine insight into their own development, creating clear areas in which they need to improve going forward.
Interestingly, the training data can also be shared company-wide and across different departments, leading to a more holistic management approach that drives more consistent learning. This information can then be used as part of an employee assessment, ensuring that progress is measured accurately and fairly.
Diana Montero delivers experiential learning programs for Fortune 500 companies at StratX ExL, helping companies to innovate, improve their business strategy and develop the next generation of leaders.