Wall Street Journal (10/26/12) Silverman, Rachel Emma
U.S. companies spent approximately $156 billion on employee learning in 2011, according to the most recent data available from the American Society for Training and Development. But roughly 90 percent of new skills may be lost within a year if not reinforced by practical follow-ups or assessments, some research suggests. Eduardo Salas, a professor of organizational psychology at the University of Central Florida, says what happens before and after a training session is as crucial as the actual learning. He adds that very few organizations rely on the science of learning, training, and development. For instance, most assume that if an unskilled worker undergoes training, he or she will immediately be transformed into an improved, skilled worker.
But the reality is that training is more complex, Salas asserts. Most organizations also do not take the time to assess their training needs in order to identify who needs training and what kind it should be. Many organizations also do not sufficiently evaluate whether employees retain what they learn, or rely solely on technology. Training should comprise clear, precise learning goals, clear feedback, an assessment tool, and regular opportunities to practice and obtain feedback, says Salas. Furthermore, organizations need to be ready to receive the training and establish the conditions to implement the newly learned skills, which includes emphasizing the importance of the training and putting it into practice.