A deeper level to training: Unlocking the power of hidden skills

  • by Tobii
  • 6 min

Visual inspection of products

We know that in certain professions, highly specialized expertise is required – but often, employers struggle to tap into an important set of hidden skills. Whether they’re ensuring product quality, maintaining safety, or overseeing assembly, we rarely capture the whole scope of a person’s capability.

Why is this? Over time, an employee receives training and guidance to help them improve their job performance. But over the same period, they also acquire hidden skills; abilities and techniques that develop on-the-job and become second nature, outside of established training programs. This kind of knowledge improves quietly over time, meaning many companies find it hard to include within their training procedures.

This widens the divide between long-serving employees and new staff, and since these specialist skills can’t be easily articulated or transferred, they often get embedded at the senior level of the organization. Over time, this has a hidden chilling effect on productivity and cost efficiency.

Let’s look at:

  • What hidden skills actually are.
  • How to visualize hidden skills.
  • How you can capitalize on expertise already in your workforce.
  • How you can speed up training and save cost using attention data.

The hidden costs

Companies invest substantial resources in training their staff, relying heavily on senior experts with years of experience. However, many companies don’t realize the wealth of advanced expertise within their own employee base.  

By failing to visualize hidden skills and pass them on, organizations unwittingly incur higher training costs and longer lead times. Employees spend more time than necessary in onboarding and experts devote excessive time to training, limiting their ability to complete business critical tasks. By extension, failing to capitalize on this innate knowledge can lead to product quality issues and, in severe cases, even safety hazards. 

Overlooked skills  

Hidden expertise is underutilized across a whole range of industries and workplaces; whenever someone completes a complex task, they are exhibiting special and unique techniques. 

Consider visual inspections, safety checks, or assembly on the factory floor; while these tasks rely on visual scanning, companies rarely incorporate dedicated training to hone this ability. Visual skills are often treated as a smaller part of the employee’s tasks, as opposed to a specific expertise to be taught and trained.  

This oversight impacts training effectiveness, employee productivity, and overall outcomes on the job – in fact, investigation into this problem has shown that 20-30% of human error in manufacturing is attributed to failings in the visual inspection process. Neglecting to truly harness valuable hidden skills like these is holding your business back! 

Visual inspection of a plane

Harnessing the value of experience

There is, however, a way for companies to capitalize on the expertise they’re sitting on. Businesses that have always wanted to validate and transfer embedded skills can now use eye tracking to capture gaze recordings of a skilled worker as they perform critical tasks that have become second nature.

Specialized eye tracking hardware and software empowers companies to view and analyze individuals' eye movements and visual attention in real time. Eye tracking technology unlocks the full context of what experts see and do, allowing trainers to focus on teaching the very best techniques for any task.

By capturing visual patterns from seasoned experts, mapping these patterns, and incorporating them into teaching materials, organizations can transform their training programs. Experts and trainees unpack their visual patterns together, noticing differences, similarities, and ways of improving. By including before-and-after scenarios, businesses can also evaluate employees' performance and skills in a deeper way.

Analyzing employees' hidden skills is also key to keeping employees at the highest level. Understanding hidden skills can help you rethink performance markers during assessments; organizations can measure progress, identify areas for improvement, and provide targeted feedback. This approach accelerates the training process, reduces costs, and ultimately leads to better business outcomes, like enhanced product quality and safety.

Visual inspection of bottles

Why wait?

By visualizing what has become second nature to employees, organizations reduce training costs, save time, and unlock hidden potential – what's more, the methods are accessible to anyone. Integrating eye tracking technology empowers trainers and trainees with data-driven insights and offers companies the opportunity to save substantial time and cost on inefficient training.

Eye tracking is already enhancing the way companies approach training and skills assessment across the world – is it time to integrate it into your training processes?

Read more about our solutions or get in touch with one of our experts to find out more.

Related content



Subscribe to our blog

Subscribe to our stories about how people are using eye tracking and attention computing.