Walmart has incorporated virtual reality into their training nation-wide, so what they are doing now comes as no surprise. The major retail chain is now using the the Oculus Go to help understand middle managers a little more, and see if they have what it takes to make their way up into the higher ranks of the worlds power-house retail store. 

As Wall Street Journal first reported, Walmart is pairing up with Strivr to create a VR skills assessment application to help rank and understand the skills of middle-ranking employees at their retail fronts. This is something that may be intimidating to some, but is something that Walmart is putting a lot of marbles into. They believe that VR is the future, and they are able to properly assess people through it. A pretty bold bet by one of the biggest businesses in the world. 

The assessment will cover a handful of situations, such as a messy aisle, a upset customer, and even underperforming employees. This is something a manager deals with each and every day. The results then will be manually calculated to see the potential in a worker, their strengths, and even their glaring weaknesses. All of this will be pooled into a score for the higher-ups to evaluate. This is aimed to help understand who should get promoted, raises, and even demoted or fired. 

Although this seems a bit of a calculated way to go about business, this should completely eliminate the favoritism we often see in hiring positions out. Often we see people hired for reasons that were determined by who the the person hiring is, and often overlooking what their qualifications are. We can trust with this process that many people will be given a fair chance, or at least a fighting chance at getting promoted. 

Beth Nagel, the lead for Human Resources for Walmart in the Pittsburgh area, says that “touchpoint in our selection process. It’s not a disqualifier,” but is meant to help them know and substitute “what we as a manager see in someone as potential.” This is something that is supposed to aid the process and not completely replace it, although it seems that day is certainly coming. 

Drew Holler, Walmart’s Vice President of associate experiences say that they are simply trying to get a view of what the people are seeing and how they are reacting to it. He says that “What we’re trying to do is understand the capacity of the individual from a leadership perspective and how they view situations.” 

The program has already been used to assess over 10,000 employees and they plan to keep doing it. This is being used to ultimately reduce labor costs by reducing the amount of managers needed. This will help their day-to-day smoothness as well as their continuity inside of their stores. This is something that each company wants to do, but Walmart has finally found a way to pul the trigger on getting better managers. 

Strivr is also the company that helped get Walmart’s employee training off the ground and running. This program has been installed and used on over 17,000 virtual reality headsets being used to train Walmart associates. The two companies plan on using body movements to also track employees and more data points. Although employees are only being graded on answers they give right now, its not too far advanced to see a future in which they use tools such as eye-tracking to asses what a customer is seeing and going through their head.  


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