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Today’s Frontline Workers Deserve Future-Focused Training

Walmart’s U.S. Academies transforms how the retail company trains associates with innovative technology to expand learning opportunities.

December 7, 2020

At a Glance

Walmart’s U.S. Academies transforms how the retail company trains associates with innovative technology to expand learning opportunities.

Laura Roberts Senior Director
Maggie Snyder, JFFLabs

As the largest employer in the country, with 1.5 million associates and more than 4,700 stores, Walmart’s training needs are enormous. In April, amidst the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic when the company was designated as an essential business, the company onboarded 150,000 new frontline workers. Walmart wants all of its training to be efficient, scalable, and cost effective and result in true, measurable learning.

Immersive learning has provided an elegant solution to these needs. Virtual reality, in particular, has helped Walmart train talent better, faster, and more efficiently when it supplements traditional in-person training. These features are even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic as Walmart has had to ensure safe opportunities for new employees to onboard and all employees to learn new skills and protocols.

Ayreann Luedders, senior director of Walmart U.S. Academies, supports Walmart’s training infrastructure and her mission is to expand training opportunities to associates who previously may not have had the chance to participate.

Led by Luedders, Walmart has implemented virtual reality training at all of its U.S. stores, made possible through the purchase of 17,000 Oculus Go headsets. Watch Luedders share what the adoption of immersive has looked like at Walmart in her own words. She spoke at JFF’s Redefining Training at Work, an invitation-only event in San Francisco in February 2020.

Luedders says it has been a great success, as indicated by increased employee engagement, greater knowledge retention, and decreased training time.

Associates have used the Oculus Go units to learn how to handle rare but important store experiences such as Black Friday, and to build skills that help them better interact with customers, such as empathy training. Walmart is considering additional use cases and plans to prioritize the development of training modules on compliance, supply chain, and logistics in the near term.

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