What are the Benefits of On-the-Job Training
Updated 26 February 2021
What Is On-the-Job Training?
On-the-job training (or OJT) is a training program tailored specifically to your organization and job role.
It should not be confused with learning by experience. Learning by experience occurs when you make a mistake or desire to do something better.
For example, learning keyboard shortcuts to input data quicker is learning by experience. Taking part in a training program that teaches you how best to input data is OJT.
Every job role requires some sort of training or onboarding. However, industries where on-the-job training is most common, are:
- Customer service
On-the-job training is also used when specific policies, procedures or software programs need to be learnt.
What are the Different Types of On-the-Job Training?
On-the-job training looks different in every organization. But the most common practices are:
Structured training consists of a set program to help you learn everything you need.
The program might include:
- A list of specific steps and actions
- A checklist for you to mark when you have completed a task
- A set of goals and learning outcomes
- Required sign-offs or signatures from senior team members
A shop assistant will complete a training program to learn how to use the cash register, understand the security policies and learn procedures like refunds and exchanges.
Unstructured learning takes the form of shadowing a colleague or senior member of staff.
It is more commonly used in businesses that don't have specific procedures.
A graduate working in a PR company for the first time will shadow a colleague to gain familiarity with the working day and the types of tasks they are expected to complete.
Standalone experience is for those who already have experience in their job role at another organization.
Their role is not technical, nor is there any specific procedures to learn. The new employer is simply given time to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings.
Blended learning is a combination of all of the above.
The onboarding program will include:
- Shadowing to see certain aspects of the job in action
- Designated training sessions using eLearning programs or microlearning videos
- The opportunity to practice for themselves
What are the Different Methods for On-the-Job Training?
The methods an employer may choose to adopt are:
- Mentoring. This is a one-on-one method where a senior team member or manager works directly with someone and aides them through their work. Mentoring might be daily or consist of weekly sessions where goals and feedback are discussed. Mentoring is a supporting form of training where the mentor offers advice rather than working through problems together.
- Coaching. Similar to mentoring but more hands-on. A coach will work with an employee and give instructions on how to complete a task.
- Apprenticeships. This method is more common with trades or craftspeople. Apprenticeships can last for many years. They are only completed when the apprentice has learned everything about the trade and is ready to work independently.
- Understudy. This type of training is also long-term. The understudy works in an assistant-type role and assists until the superior is unavailable, retires or transfers responsibility.
- Job instructional training (JIT). Following a strict step-by-step program, the trainee is told the role's expectations and skills. They are then free to do the tasks. Upon completion, feedback is given by both trainer and trainee.
- Job rotation. Under this training method, an employee is sent to work in different departments. The goal is to give employees familiarity with other jobs in the company. For the employee, this type of training helps avoid boredom as they can focus on different tasks.
- Internships are also considered on-the-job learning. Many employers prefer those with extensive interning experience, and this is why universities incorporate them into their curriculum.
What are the Employee Benefits of On-the-Job Training?
The best OTJ training programs are:
- Add value
- Full of useful information
- Completed in a timely manner
For an employee, there are many benefits to an excellent on-the-job training program.
- Employees are paid for their time, so they don't feel they are being taken advantage of.
- It develops new skills. 68% of employees believe training programs are essential when accepting a job offer as they want to develop and grow within an organization.
- Employee morale and confidence is improved as they feel supported and trusted.
- It improves job performance as all the competencies are learned and understood.
- It creates a team atmosphere as everyone is involved in their own training programs – there is no need for backstabbing or purposely sabotaging a colleague's promotion.
- It prevents the employee from getting bored or complacent as they are learning new things without having to spend time in a classroom or at a conference.
What are the Employer Benefits of On-the-Job Training?
For the employer, OJT:
- Is a cost-effective means of training. A HR study found that recruitment costs upwards of $40,000 per year, especially when you add in the costs of training. OJT removes the need for conferences, travel, materials and catering.
- It saves time as no one has to travel or take dedicated time away from their job for training.
- Implementation is easier as the employee is actively learning and can address issues as they arise.
- Increases productivity as their employees feel motivated and confident in doing their job. $500 billion is lost per year because of disengaged employees. Dedicating some time to your employees' development eliminates a large percentage of that cost.
- It provides targeted learning as the employee learns the topics specific to their role or goals.
- It improves employee retention as employees are less likely to leave a workplace they are supported by. 40% of employees will resign from their job in the first year if the organization does not have a decent training program.
- It enhances the reputation of the company. Businesses that invest in employee training see a 24% increase in profits and gain a reputation as being an organization someone wants to work for.
Example of On-the-Job Training
You've just hired a new sales representative called Samantha.
For her training, you partner her with your leading sales representative, James.
Before Samantha's start date, you discuss the training program with James. You state the learning objectives and the skills you want Samantha to master.
On Monday morning, Samantha and James discuss her previous experience and what she hopes to learn during her training. She shadows James while he makes sales calls and meets a potential client.
Samantha and James have an open dialogue where she can ask questions freely. James has taken numerous training sessions on how to train others and enjoys the teaching role.
By Wednesday, Samantha meets with her first potential client. She is also told to start conducting her own research and make a file of more potential clients.
Later in the day, Samantha leads a client meeting, with James supervising in the background. At the end of the day, they sit and discuss what she did well and where she can improve.
Throughout the rest of the week, Samantha completes eLearning's about hostile work environments, health and safety procedures, and the best sales techniques.
By the end of her first week, Samantha has learned all about her new role and feels confident about starting the next week. Her manager gives her feedback and they create a set of goals for Samantha to achieve in her first month.
Apart from her sales targets, another goal is to train as a first responder and fire marshal before her first-year review.
Before leaving for the weekend, Samantha is asked if there is anything else she would like to discuss or have clarified.
Samantha leaves the office feeling confident and eager to start the next working week.
It is the goal of every individual to progress in their career.
On-the-job training during onboarding facilitates motivation and dedication from the employee. Throughout their career, it keeps the employee interested in the role.
From an employer's perspective, it reduces costs through employee retention and removes the need for dedicated training days.
While the concept seems so simple, OTJ training creates a harmonious union between employer and employee that will hopefully last the employment duration.
However, it is something that needs to be done well.
While creating training programs, time should be taken to getting it right.
- Consider the employee's current experience or level of education
- Incorporate their goals into the training program, as well as the organizations
- Remember to train the trainers or invest in employees with training/leadership skills