Baby Boomers Launching Into Interactive Tech Innovations? YesVR
Survey results indicates that passing the written Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) exam, doesn’t prepare young people for high stress and intense hospitality work environments. Such as attending to aggressive or intoxicated customers. This not only affects staff, it affects customers.
To make people job ready, YesVR created a virtual environment, simulating real-life work situations and solutions. Vocational trainer, Paul King and hospitality veteran Dianne Flakus partnered up to lead a team of industry, educational and technology professionals to gamify hospitality training. Learners can immerse themselves in a virtual world where they literally stand in the shoes of the bartender at a virtual bar. They practice applying their RSA knowledge, while interacting with customers.
Paul said: “When I first tried virtual reality (VR), it blew me away. I immediately realised how powerful its application in training could be.”
Dianne said: “When Paul spoke to me about creating real-life simulations to upskill young people, my nurturing instincts kicked in. I could draw on my hospitality expertise and my network of hospitality experts to help upskill tomorrow’s leaders. Everyone needs to develop a repertoire of strategies for how to handle difficult situations and challenging people. And to practice in a safe environment. So why not tackle these current, hot topics and big budget items that impact individuals and the hospitality industry?”
“Employee stress is such a significant safety issue that’s costly for both employees and employers. In Australia, workplace-related stress costs around $14.8 billion or $340 every day for an absent staff.
YesVR created scenarios that promote a safe and healthy workplace. Training that benefits employers, workers and customers...It makes good business sense - it’s easier, cheaper and more responsible than ignoring the problem,” said Dianne.
Health professionals and governments organisations have acknowledged the seriousness of stress as an issue in the hospitality industry and developed the ‘No One Deserves a Serve’ campaign. The Australian Human Rights Commission research indicates that “job stress and other work-related psycho-social hazards are emerging as the leading contributors to the burden of occupational disease and injury... around one in five Australian adults will experience a mental illness in any given year.”
Paul said: “When I started this journey, I didn’t realise what a huge production this would be. I sought out award-winning learning experts to ensure there are sound educational strategies supporting every scenario. More importantly, virtual reality delivers significantly higher knowledge retention compared with traditional training because it’s engaging and fun.”
Actor, Craig Walker plays the role of the senior bartender providing ‘on the job’ feedback. So learners can reflect upon their decisions, particularly when dealing with intoxicated or challenging customers.
“Filming virtual reality and presenting everything in an interactive way allows people to experience workplace scenarios, to choose their own ‘adventure’ and practice in a non-threatening, safe way. They learn things that only real-life experience can teach.
As a vocational trainer, I understand everyone has a different learning journey. Our learning design provides opportunities for people to repeat the lessons they struggle with, to improve decision-making and performance,” said Paul.
Dianne said: “For employees starting work or a new job, it’s common to experience increased levels of stress, and this can lead into higher risk situations. Being able to apply their RSA knowledge, to practice soft skills and review their decision-making in a range of workplace scenarios, means when difficult situations arise at work, they are better prepared. Their improved skills, knowledge and confidence help effectively prevent escalation and minimise harm. These are distinct benefits for employees and customers.
Although employers know providing their staff with quality training improves job performance, decreases employee stress levels and lowers the risk of workplace injury, traditional training is inflexible and therefore a challenge. This is because the hospitality industry attracts a high percentage of casual and transient workers.
Interestingly, quality training was reported as being one of the top 3 effective ways to retain staff.
So interactive, on-demand workplace training can help reduce overall operating costs and accommodate untimely staff-turnover.
It has potential to boost profits, because customers who are greeted by well-trained, friendly, courteous employees, feel comfortable and stay longer.
Hospitality is a service industry, meaning it’s also about enhancing your customer’s experience.
Developing an interactive way to prevent issues, effectively reduce risk and minimise harm (eg psychological, physical, social sense); to return the offering of higher quality customer service, while reducing overall operating costs for businesses was definitely worth coming out of retirement for.
RSA qualified, new recruits or those wanting a ‘refresher’ can now put on VR headsets to experience and practice engaging with industry-relevant scenarios.”
ABOUT THE FOUNDERS
As teachers, Paul and Dianne both understand the importance and value of providing people with a safe environment to practice.
About Paul King
Paul and his wife are both teachers, with 4 children and 2 grandchildren.
He is always around young people - asking about what they are up to, listening to them telling me about their dreams and goals, and about their issues and challenges. And because of this, he learnt that so many young people’s first job is in hospitality and so few of them are equipped to handle difficult situations.
Paul went looking for solutions and found there weren’t any. As a creative person, a dad and a lifelong learner, he decided to explore this option.
When he spoke to hospitality veteran Dianne, she mentioned the statistics of employee stress as a significant work health and safety issue in the hospitality industry, and how costly it is for both employees and employers, so that’s what YesVR is tackling first.
About Dianne Flakus
Dianne’s first hospitality job was working in her grandmother’s catering business. Nearly 50 years on and she can still clearly remember how intimidated and scared she felt when (normally) friendly, courteous people drank a little too much, then turned into angry and unreasonable people.
As a life long ‘foodie’ and traveller, she’s always observing the interactions and communications between staff and customers, and how easily a situation can escalate. Even after many years in management dealing with difficult or aggressive customers can still be a challenge for her. Can you imagine just how difficult it is to be confronted with this on your first day, at your first job?
She recently retired, and just when she thought she could enjoy travelling to exotic places, Paul enticed her back into the workforce to shape the future of hospitality training.
Over the years, she’s learnt that the appropriate strategies and dialogue can often diffuse escalating situations, so this time around, Dianne’s working late nights editing scripts in front a computer, reviewing footage using a VR headset for love, not money.