3 Strategies to Preserving Employee Skillsets

Posted by Cortney Peters on Jul 27, 2015 2:57:00 PM


Your new hire is getting off to a great start; they fit into their position nicely after successful training completion, their output is increasingly effective, and they are becoming a vital asset to your team. Then, a few months down the road you start to notice that their skills aren’t as sharp as they once were. It seems that they haven’t actually absorbed the information you worked so hard to teach them during their corporate training.

So, where’s the disconnect? Based on their smooth onboarding, they should be setup to excel. The issue here is a common, recent employment trend known as “skill decay” or “skill fade.” These terms refer to the fading of previously developed skills from prior training.


Why is this “skill decay” so common?


  • Cramming: To save time and money, many corporations often rush training not allowing for employees to truly grasp the necessary information needed to perform their tasks efficiently. This results in 10% retention once trainees transition into their roles. They forget 90% of what they learned thanks to cramming.


  • The Training Gap: If the chasm between training and having the opportunity to apply the learned skills in the workplace is too large, it often leads to loss of many skills and company insights the employee was previously exposed to during training.


  • Overlearning: This occurs when the trainee is provided with too much information, or unnecessary instruction to perform in their specific role. This can often stress out the trainee with information overload and takes away from their ability to grasp critical material and hone key skills.


Now the big question. How can YOU preserve your employees’ skillsets?


1)    Digitalization & mobility are your friends. Instead of giving stacks of information in huge binders to your trainees, why not take your company’s training virtual? Allowing your materials to be accessible through technology means trainees can learn in their own way, which gives them more flexibility choose their consumption method. Not only does it help for training in a time crunch, it saves the company money on printing costs. Additionally, this allows the employee to consult the training materials whenever they need a refresher. It’s the most efficient training tactic for your employees.


Don’t underestimate the importance of digital or you’ll miss out on top of the line talent.


2)    Get your employees to work! Don’t wait too long to get your employees on the job. Sure, they may make mistakes at first, but as mentioned previously waiting too long can lead to skill fade. Your employees will be more likely to make worse mistakes further into the job if the gap isn’t sealed.


Avoid the Training Gap so your employees have a better chance to apply newly acquired skills and information to the actual job.


3)    Perform task analyses before training begins. Before forcing every soon-to-be employee through the same course, take a step back to perform a task analysis before beginning the actual training process. By analyzing the different tasks and duties each job entails, executives can make the decision to split up the training into different sections so you don’t waste current employees’ or your trainee’s time.


Chances are the “one size fits all” training technique doesn’t fit your trainees as well as you thought.


Your employees enter your workforce ready and able to succeed, but if they aren’t trained properly from the beginning their abilities can dwindle. Encourage your employees to thrive by providing them with the time, tools and information during training they need to do so.



Sources: “Factors That Increase Skill Decay and Retention: A Quantitative Review and Analysis” by Winfred Arthur Jr. from ResearchGate.net.


“So Much Training, So Little to Show for It” by Rachel Emma Silverman from Wall Street Journal, wsj.com.

Topics: Corporate Learning

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