Use It or Lose It – The Case for Refresher Training

Feb 20, 2020 | Management, Training

​We live in a world of information overload. With technology pushing alerts constantly and new stimuli overwhelming the senses continually, is there a limit to how much people can take in? Science tells us that while the human brain doesn’t necessarily have a storage capacity, there are constraints on how much people can learn. Knowledge retention is affected by issues such as attention span, care factor, and repetition. In business, refresher training can help mitigate those issues and keep your employees focused on their jobs.

The Who, What, Why, and When of Refresher Training

Who: All employees will benefit from refresher training, but you should approach it differently based on the unique needs of each person. New employees are expected to take in a lot during orientation, which means re-training is critical once they’ve been on the job awhile. Experienced employees also need to be re-trained on important topics such as safety, compliance regulations, harassment prevention, and customer service.

What: Refresher training is a type of employee training that recalls and reinforces previously acquired skills. Sometimes, this type of re-training can consist of employees re-taking an online course they’ve already taken. Or, it can be conducted in a completely different way. For example, employees may take an online course on how to respond to a fuel spill, and then have that knowledge reinforced and recalled during on-the-job training. Refresher training doesn’t always have to be planned. For example, if you see a news story about a chemical accident or skimming operation, talk about what happened as part of an informal refresher training session. 

Why: It’s important to keep all training fresh, but re-training employees on safety and compliance issues is particularly important. In some cases, OSHA requires or recommends employees be regularly retrained on certain topics such as bloodborne pathogens and other safety issues. Some states, such as California and New York, require harassment prevention refresher training on a specific schedule.

When: The frequency of refresher training depends on the topic. Follow OSHA guidelines on safety issues, many of which require re-training every year. Compliance topics should be refreshed any time laws change or an infraction occurs. For harassment prevention training, state laws may dictate how often employees need to be re-trained. For non-regulated training topics, managers should set their own refresher training schedules.

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