Walmart Is Utilizing Virtual Reality For Training And Hiring Future Managers

By Annie Baker ● July 11, 2019
  • Walmart is utilizing virtual reality technology for determining whether employees are managerial

Drew Holler — the SVP of associate experience at retail giant Walmart — told USA Today that it is using virtual reality headsets for testing which employees are ready to be promoted to middle management positions. The virtual reality headsets essentially place Walmart associates in real-life situations such as calming down angry shoppers or giving employees store tours which involve knowing where products are located.

These situations are able to be virtually replicated and standardized for hundreds of Walmart’s employees, which eliminates the bias while offering employees positions based on their skill sets. “What we measure is how they engage with us,” said Holler via USA Today. “There’s no right or wrong, but it gives an understanding for their level of maturity when it comes to leadership, as well as how they view customer service.”

Menlo Park, California-based STRIVR is the company that is designing Walmart’s virtual reality training platform using $250 Oculus Go VR headsets. These headsets are manufactured by Facebook’s Oculus VR subsidiary.

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Back in 2017, the VR headsets were brought to 30 Walmart Academies. Associates at the Academies used these VR headsets to train to handle situations ranging from setting up the produce section and how to handle Black Friday chaos.

And now the Oculus Go VR headsets were expanded to all Walmart storefronts and 10,000 out of Walmart’s 1.2 million employees used the platform so far. One of those employees is Economy, Pennsylvania-based 32-year-old David Arias — who received a promotion and a 10% raise since testing out the VR technology.

One of the VR scenarios tested him about how to act as a manager, assist a store employee, and help a customer searching for mascara. Holler told USA Today that the VR assessment is only one of the “data points” that is used during the hiring process. And the final decision still depends on the hiring manager.

“As people, we think naturally in 3D,” added Facebook’s head of enterprise at the AR/VR division Maria Fernandez Guajardo via USA Today.  “Because we’ve been reduced to a 2D surface, we’ve constrained the way we think.”