Outside the Box Training or Boxed In?

As Generation Y becomes more prevalent in the workforce, many companies talk about integrating social networking/technology into their employees’ modi operandorum.  While the key word is ‘talk’ for many companies, savvier folks in this WSJ article like UPS have replaced textbooks and tests with videogames, a walking-on-ice-simulator, and an obstacle course for drivers to weave through set in a fake village.

The new outside-the-box technology may sound daunting, but the underlying process of hands-on training and simulation has been used in the hospitality industry since day one.  Trainees often start by shadowing seasoned agents, and they are put into a guest experience situation right away.  Would trainees learn quicker by interacting with a virtual guest? Similarly, would it make the guest experience better if their Second Life avatar slept in a virtual hotel room and ate a delicious room service meal?

As with anything in life, balance is important.  I am sure Gen Y trainees would dig a video game where they could practice how to serve from the left and clear from the right—these are innovative ways to improve ‘Service’ standards training.  However, the other side of the coin is ‘Hospitality’, where no video game or interactive trainer can simulate a true guest interaction.  Perhaps all of these innovative training methods serve a secondary purpose: they box in the importance to hire for personality and train for skills.

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