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Fight “Skill Slide” With Employee Training and Development

employee skills during covid-19

As workers transition back to the office—some following many months working remotely—supporting employee training and development is more important than ever.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to drastically change their approach to work, business leaders had to redesign their practices and procedures to allow employees to work from home (WFH), practically overnight. The transition was challenging, to say the least.

New technologies were adopted to maintain work standards, productivity, effective communication, employee engagement, and data security in cyberspace. Employees were challenged with learning new skills and technologies to work effectively from home. On top of that, workers with children had to do it all while managing homeschooling and caring for their children. The transition was hard, but thankfully, many businesses and employees successfully adapted.

Now, CEOs and business owners face another challenge: ensuring employee skills are up to speed as they transition back into the workplace.

Have Employee Skills Gone Rusty During the Pandemic?

A return to the office or hybrid work may appear simple at first, but it requires re-investment in employee training and development. CEOs and business owners need to take a close look at the on-site skills of key positions that may have gone rusty during the pandemic. Baron Christopher Hanson, principal and lead counselor at RedBaron Consulting, calls this the “pandemic sabbatical effect,” while others call it "skill slide."

Employees who traveled often prior to the pandemic have been home for months or years now. Restaurant kitchen and front-of-house employees may not have been able to run a restaurant at full capacity since prior to the pandemic. Professional lighting and stage technicians that set up concert venues, large events, or theatrical productions have likely not done so in ages. Recently, there has been an increase in commercial pilot in-flight mistakes and pilots blame the downtime due to the pandemic for being rusty. Cruise ship operators, staff, and crew may face similar challenges as the cruise ship industry returns to pre-pandemic operations.

The Importance of Employee Training and Development

Investing in employee training and development has never been more critical. It is up to the C-suite and upper management to determine the on-site core skills that may have gone rusty during the pandemic downtime and develop plans for retraining and upskilling employees.

It will be equally important to gain employee buy-in and cooperation. Just as it took careful planning and time to transition employees and managers to remote work, it requires the same careful planning and time to return workers to the workplace post-pandemic.

It may be time to rethink your company’s employee training and development budget. Have your HR department determine which skills for key positions need retraining, and then invest in retraining programs to support the transition back into the workplace. It will be money well spent to quickly get your workforce back into top production shape.


If you have any questions regarding this topic or any other HR or recruiting questions, we are happy to help. Premier HR Solutions provides HR Consulting Services and Recruiting Services to small and medium-sized businesses. Click on the link below to schedule a complimentary consultation.


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