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Monday, May 9, 2011

Most trainees forget what they learnt during a training after a certain time and feel puzzled if asked about it! 

The idea behind training employees is to help them improve their performance and efficiency.  Although training requires investing financial resources -- which could be substantial in some cases -- yet the cost of not training them will yield higher financial waste, in term of lost productivity, lower efficiency and motivation.

To ensure a higher ROI on training, companies need to implement Refresher Training (RT), which is a review of previously implemented training intervention.  RT is a key activity, used by successful companies, to improve employee’s performance, facilitate the learning transfer and increase retention. From operational prospective, RT is an effective remedy, in the following cases:
1. Risky functions, which require following specific set of KAS (Knowledge, Ability, Skills) without deviation.
2. Technical work, which requires maintaining consistent process, without discrepancy, such as risk analysis process in banking industry.
3. Reinforce existing KAS, to ensure homogeneity and consistency, between different involved parties.  Such as conducting RT to review a company’s policy and procedures.
4. When there is a drop in existing KAS, and there is a need to raise it up again, such as a weakness in writing technical reports.
5. To satisfy legal requirement, such as a RT in anti-money laundry, in the banking industry.
6. Update existing KAS, resulting from standard or industry update.  Such as the recent update in IFRS accounting standards.
7. Certification process requirement.  Such as service quality certification requirement for customer service environment, all over the organization.

Having said the above, you might still wonder why would we pay more money to conduct RT if we are conducting intensive training in the first place, and especially that our training plan is busy all year long?  The answer is in the Ebbinghaus forgetting effect, which was devised by German Psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus (1885).  Due to the fact, that we forget what we learn over time, the need for RT emerges strongly.  Research shows that we lose up to 77%* of newly learnt KAS after six days. Such concept illustrates the decline of memory’s retention and recall of newly acquired KAS over time, as illustrated in below graph and table.

Time Period*  Percentage of Knowledge retained
20 mins 60%
1 hour 45%
9 hours 38%
2 days 30%
6 days 23%

In his research, Ebbinghaus stated that the speed of newly obtained KAS retention and recall, depends on the following factors:
1. The difficulty level of the obtained KAS, in terms of understanding and application.  
2. The meaningfulness of the obtained KAS to us, in term of importance, joyfulness, and relevance.
3. Delivery presentation, in term of style and approach, and different learning style orientations.
4. Physiological factors, such fatigue, exhaustion, stress, etc.

For this, and to overcome learning barriers, RT is one of the tools, which could help improve recalling obtained KAS, and improve its retention.  For example: Starbucks has conducted a 3 hours RT for more than 135,000 employees, in 7,100 company-operated Starbucks stores in the United States.  The subject of such RT was how to correctly press the button of the automated espresso machines, used by Starbucks employees, to prepare beverages.  This is a technical oriented RT, and targets specific skill, with a short period of time duration, to ensure consistent application.
For this, I strongly urge you to include RT in your training plan, to support and complement traditionally implemented training interventions.

Nizar Baidoun
Trainer & Consultant

Posted By Ideas Group at
09:10 - AM
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