A thriving business is like a finely-tuned orchestra, relying on the perfect balance of labor and equipment. While machinery maintenance is essential to keep it running smoothly, investing in your human capital is just as – if not more – important.
Training your workforce properly is pivotal for any business’s success, as the quality of your products depends on the skills and competency of those who make them. Fortunately, various training methods are available – from traditional on-the-job (OJT) to more academic off-the-job programs.
This article examines OJT in detail – exploring the On the Job training definition, its different types, benefits, and drawbacks, and demonstrating how it can shape an employee’s career trajectory and a company’s overall growth story. Here’s a quick outline of what we’ll discuss:
- What Is On The Job Training?
- Different Types Of On The Job Training
- Benefits of On the Job Training Programs
- Role of OJT in Employee Skill Development
- The Process of Implementing OJT
- Drawbacks To On The Job Training
- How OJT Aids in Talent Retention
- What Are The OJT Alternatives?
- Final Thoughts: Leverage Modern Technologies to Get the Most out of On The Job Training Programs
Let’s take a look!
What Is On The Job Training?
On-the-job training (OJT) is a powerful tool for knowledge acquisition and skill development. It’s a hands-on method of training that takes place in the actual workplace, outlined by the US Department of Labor. OJT encompasses various techniques with one common purpose: to provide employees with the necessary skills and understanding to maximize their job performance.
Unlike traditional educational approaches, OJT is contextualized, meaning it can be quickly applied to real-world scenarios – and immediately impacts productivity. With its capacity to bridge theory and practice, OJT not only equips workers with the necessary competencies but can also create a more skilled and confident workforce.
This leads to an array of benefits, such as increased productivity, improved job satisfaction, and better quality of work – ultimately resulting in stronger teams and a culture of continuous learning.
Different Types Of On The Job Training
Let’s dive deeper into a few different types of on the job training and help you figure out which training method will suit your business and its employees best.
An apprenticeship is a system of training where a new employee works under the supervision of a more experienced worker to learn the ropes and gain the skills needed for the job. The apprentice starts off with basic tasks and gradually progresses to more complex work as they gain confidence.
An advantage of apprenticeships is that they offer a structured way to learn complex skills and can be customized to the specific needs of your business. They also create a talent pipeline for your company, as apprentices are likelier to stay with the company once they’ve completed their training.
However, there are some negatives.
Apprenticeships can be costly and time-consuming, as they require the supervision of a more experienced employee. They may also be less flexible than other training methods, as apprenticeships are typically tied to a specific job or tasks and cannot take on varied assignments.
Coaching is a form of development in which an individual is given guidance and support by someone more experienced in the same field.
As an employee, you can be trained by a coach who can, and this will generally involve being shown how to do something and then being given feedback on your performance.
This sort of OJT has the advantage of being tailored specifically to the individual. It also means the coach is not involved in your work life 24/7 – which may be the case in an apprenticeship.
Another benefit it holds over apprenticeships is the coach being available on an ad-hoc basis. This way, the employee learns a greater range of skills rather than being stuck to a particular set of tasks which is often the case during an apprenticeship.
This is where an employee is moved around different departments or positions within a company to give them a better understanding of the business as a whole.
This can be an effective way of training someone, as they will gain first-hand experience of different aspects of the company. However, job rotation can mean an employee is never in one place long enough to become an expert in that area.
It creates many employees who are jacks of all trades but masters of none. This can be a dangerous proposition for your company’s long-term future.
Shadowing is when an employee observes another more experienced coworker to learn how to perform their job. This can be done informally by asking a colleague to show you how they do something or, more formally, through a structured shadowing program.
It offers the added benefit of allowing your employees to get to know each other better and builds morale.
Benefits of On the Job Training Programs
OJT offers a variety of benefits when compared to alternative methods of training. Here are a few of the key pros:
It can enhance employees’ skill sets
On the job training can help to enhance an individual’s skill set, which can lead to improved employee development. When an employee can learn new skills or hone existing ones while working, they are more likely to be able to contribute more effectively to their role within the company.
This can lead to increased job satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment, which can contribute to improved employee development.
It is cost-effective when compared to alternatives
Compared to other training methods, on the job training is often more cost-effective. This is because there is no need to pay for external trainers or expensive courses, which is often the case with off the job training.
It can lead to increased motivation
On the job training can increase employee motivation as they can see the direct relevance of the skills they are learning to their job. This can make training more engaging and enjoyable, which can, in turn, lead to improved employee development.
It can be used to assess employees
OJT can also be used to assess employees and their suitability for certain roles within the company. By observing employees during training, employers can better understand an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and whether they would be a good fit for a particular position.
Compare this to a regular training course — an employee may be good at sitting a specific exam, but how can you judge their suitability for actual work?
As a result, OJT can save the company time and money in the long run by ensuring that employees are placed in roles that they are best suited for.
It can help employees be more connected to the company
On the job training can help employees be more engaged as they feel they are constantly learning and developing. Since OJT consists of coaches and mentors helping out a worker, it also means the employee develops a closer bond with their colleagues.
This increased engagement and the closer bond can lead to employees feeling like they are truly a part of the company — and therefore, they are more likely to stick with the firm. This is particularly important today, where hiring is done remotely, and so finding another job is significantly easier than in the past.
Role of OJT in Employee Skill Development
The role of on-the-job training (OJT) in employee skill development is multifaceted and profoundly impactful. It equips employees with the requisite skills to perform their jobs effectively and fosters a culture of continuous learning within the organization. Let’s delve deeper into how OJT contributes to employee skill development:
- Practical application: OJT allows employees to apply theories and concepts learned during formal education in a real-world work environment. This practical application deepens understanding and strengthens skills.
- Immediate feedback and correction: With OJT, employees can receive immediate feedback on their performance from supervisors or mentors. This allows for prompt correction of mistakes, further enhancing skill development.
- Context-specific learning: OJT is tailored to the employees’ specific job roles and tasks, making the training relevant and beneficial in their day-to-day work.
- Increased confidence: As employees become more proficient in their tasks through OJT, their confidence increases. This confidence can lead to higher job satisfaction and improved performance.
- Retention of knowledge: Learning by doing, the primary method of OJT, aids in better retention of knowledge and skills. Hands-on experiences often leave a stronger impression than theoretical learning alone.
- Adaptation to technological changes: In an ever-evolving technological landscape, OJT helps employees stay updated and adapt to new tools and technologies related to their job, thus promoting continuous learning.
- Preparation for advancement: OJT can be a stepping stone for career progression. By honing their skills on the job, employees are better prepared for promotions and new roles within the organization.
The Process of Implementing OJT
When implemented properly, on-the-job training (OJT) can be a powerful tool for employee development. An effective OJT program isn’t just about learning by doing; it also involves a meticulous process of planning, execution, and evaluation. Here, we explore the main stages of implementing an OJT program:
1. Planning and Designing the OJT Program
The first stage of implementing OJT involves carefully assessing the organization’s training needs, aligned with its goals and objectives. This involves identifying employees’ skills to acquire or enhance and mapping out a training program that caters to these needs.
Some key suggestions for this stage include:
- Conduct a skills gap analysis to determine the training needs.
- Define clear, measurable objectives for the training.
- Identify the resources and tools necessary for the training.
- Consider the learning styles and preferences of your employees.
2. Assigning Mentors and Training Personnel
Once the training program is outlined, it’s crucial to appoint competent mentors or trainers to guide employees through the learning process. This could be a supervisor, a seasoned colleague, or an external expert.
Considerations at this stage include:
- Choose mentors who have excellent technical skills and are good at communicating.
- Train the mentors themselves so they know how to guide the trainees effectively.
- Establish clear roles and responsibilities for the mentors.
3. Execution of the OJT Program
At this stage, the actual training commences. This involves guiding the employees through the tasks, demonstrating the correct procedures, and providing feedback. It’s also critical to ensure the training environment is conducive to learning.
To optimize this phase:
- Ensure that training sessions are well-structured and organized.
- Encourage active participation and interaction.
- Promote a positive and safe learning environment.
- Provide constructive feedback regularly.
4. Evaluation and Continuous Improvement
After the OJT program has been delivered, assessing its effectiveness is essential. This can be done through feedback from trainees and mentors and by monitoring employee performance changes.
For practical evaluation and improvement:
- Use a variety of assessment tools, such as surveys and performance metrics.
- Seek feedback from both the trainees and the trainers.
- Review the results and adjust the training program as necessary.
By adhering to these steps, organizations can ensure the successful implementation of an OJT program, leading to improved employee performance and productivity.
How OJT Aids in Talent Retention
Talent retention is a critical element in the success and longevity of any organization. OJT (On-the-job training) plays a significant role in keeping your workforce engaged, upskilled, and committed. Let’s explore how OJT contributes to retaining talent:
- Employee engagement and satisfaction: OJT allows employees to learn and grow while on the job, which can significantly increase their engagement and satisfaction. The opportunity to develop new skills and enhance existing ones can make employees feel valued and appreciated.
- Career advancement: OJT can prepare employees for career advancement opportunities within the organization. This sense of career progression can encourage employees to stay with the company longer.
- Reduced boredom and turnover: By continuously providing learning opportunities, OJT can help prevent job stagnation and boredom, which are common causes of employee turnover. Regular training makes employees more likely to stay motivated and committed to their roles.
- Fostering loyalty: Organizations that invest in their employees through training, such as OJT often experience increased employee loyalty. Employees are likely to stay with a company committed to their professional development.
- Creating a positive work culture: OJT can contribute to a learning culture within the organization. Such a culture can boost employee morale, making the organization a more attractive workplace.
- Better performance and productivity: OJT enhances employees’ skills, leading to improved performance and productivity. High-performing employees are likely to stay with the organization, contributing to talent retention.
- Adaptability: In an ever-changing work environment, OJT ensures employees are equipped with the latest skills and knowledge, making them more adaptable and resilient, which can lead to longer tenure within the company.
Organizations can enhance their talent retention strategies by focusing on OJT, ensuring a dedicated, skilled, and long-standing workforce.
Drawbacks To On The Job Training
Alongside these significant advantages, it’s also essential to consider the potential downsides.
- Expensive: Your existing employees could spend too much time coaching, which takes them away from their official role. This can be very pricey, especially if the coaches are senior employees with high hourly rates.
- Can be repetitive and boring: If the training is not well designed, it can be repetitive and boring for both the trainer and the trainee. This can lead to a high attrition rate as employees leave the company searching for more exciting work.
- It can potentially be unsafe: If on the job training is not planned correctly, it can be unsafe for both employees and equipment. This is because employees may not have the necessary safety training before they start working with dangerous machinery.
What Are The Alternatives?
Alternatives to on-the-job training can include classroom teaching and eLearning.
Classroom-style teaching can be beneficial if the organization has the resources to support it. It can provide a more structured environment where employees can learn theory and ask questions in real-time. The downside is that it can be disruptive to workflow if an employee is pulled out of their regular duties for long periods.
eLearning may also be a better option if an organization does not have the resources to support classroom instruction. eLearning can be done at an employee’s convenience and can be less disruptive to workflow.
However, online learning may not be as engaging as classroom instruction, and the employee may not have anyone to ask questions in real-time.
Final Thoughts: Leverage Modern Technologies to Get the Most out of On The Job Training Programs
As we enter an era of accelerated digital transformation, leveraging modern technologies to enhance on-the-job training (OJT) programs has become increasingly important. Today, technology offers many tools and platforms to make OJT more effective, engaging, and personalized. Here, we explore how organizations can harness these technologies to maximize the impact of their OJT initiatives and foster a culture of continuous learning:
- E-Learning platforms: E-Learning platforms can offer a wealth of resources for OJT. They can provide employees with easy access to learning materials, interactive modules, and real-time feedback, allowing them to learn at their own pace and convenience.
- Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR): These technologies can create immersive and interactive training environments, enabling employees to learn by doing without the risks associated with real-world training. This can be particularly useful for jobs that require complex skills or entail potential safety hazards.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning: AI can personalize the learning experience by identifying individual learning gaps and tailoring content accordingly. Machine learning algorithms can also analyze training outcomes and provide insights for continuous improvement.
- Collaboration tools: Modern collaboration tools can facilitate communication and knowledge sharing among employees, enhancing the collaborative aspect of OJT. They can also enable remote OJT, which has become increasingly relevant in the era of remote work.
- Data analytics: By analyzing training data, organizations can measure the effectiveness of their OJT programs and make data-driven decisions to improve them.
On-the-job training is an invaluable tool for employee development and talent retention. With the right approach, robust planning and implementation, and leveraging modern technology, OJT can genuinely transform the workforce, driving productivity, enhancing skills, and nurturing a culture of continuous learning.