Michael Sawyer of Mr. G’s Foods, a food manufacturing organization in Florida, is a star employee. He’s punctual, hard-working and focused—committed to every little task on hand. He doesn’t let autism slow him down, so much so that the owner of Mr. G’s Foods, Gerard Guarino, says: “I often tell my manager, if I had 10 Michaels, I would be happy.” That’s the power of on-the-job training.
Sawyer is a graduate of an on-the-job training program hosted by the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. His eagerness to learn and the intricacies of the program have guided him to success.
On-the-job training is one of the oldest forms of learning and career development. It can help employees excel in their job by familiarizing them with everyday tasks and organization culture.
What Is On-The-Job Training?
On-the-job training is a technique that teaches workers job-specific skills and helps them gain a thorough understanding of what their position requires. A trainee employee works together with a more experienced staff member under normal working conditions within the workplace. The employee learns how to do the job by observing and collaborating with their trainer, while also getting accustomed with the organization’s work environment. After an observation period, the trainee is asked to perform a specific task independently.
The two most common types of on-the-job training are:
Unstructured On-The-Job Training
Unstructured on-the-job training doesn’t follow a set plan or schedule. It’s free-form training on-the-job. The trainer acts as a mentor to the employee throughout entire workdays in an “observe-and-imitate training process”. Employees pick up job-specific knowledge and skills through trial and error. The trainer offers feedback and suggestions for improvement along the way.
Structured On-The-Job Training
Structured on-the-job training is a methodical, planned approach to employee learning and development. It comes with specific tasks, a training agenda—complete with set goals—and a completion timeline. Trainers often recommend reading material, provide instruction manuals and deliver presentations to help employees learn and develop job skills. Outcome is assessed at the end.
While both these types have their own advantages, many organizations lean toward structured on-the-job training because it follows a distinct roadmap and is often more effective in achieving training goals.
Benefits Of On-The-Job Training
On-the-job training benefits both employees and organizations. Employees or new hires gain invaluable knowledge and skills that help them become productive members of the organization. Higher productivity leads to organizational growth. Here are a few top benefits of training on-the-job:
On-the-job training offers employees a personalized learning experience. Employees are trained through an approach tailored to their needs, strengths and current proficiency level. When they become familiar with their tasks and are aware of their exact role, it boosts their morale and they make lesser mistakes. They become well-versed with industry standards and business procedures, helping their organization stay ahead of the competition.
Compared to other employee training programs such as simulation employee training and instructor-led training, on-the-job training is extremely cost-effective. An organization doesn’t need to spend millions on augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR) devices. Nor does it need to hire outside trainers. Experienced and knowledgeable members of the organization take up the task of training. This cost-effectiveness is especially beneficial for small-scale organizations.
Reduced Staff Turnover
LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report showed 94% of employees would stay at an organization longer if it invested in their careers. Training on-the-job shows employees how their work can contribute to the organization’s growth directly. They’re motivated to do their best as they begin to identify with their organization. Committed employees are more likely to stay on for a long time. The organization benefits from reduced staff turnover, gaining loyal and dedicated workers.
Positive Work Environment
On-the-job training promotes a positive work environment, allowing seniors to bond with juniors. Seniors empower and encourage new employees to deliver their best while training them. New employees get to know their seniors and coworkers, working with them in sync. All of this results in a close-knit team that works toward shared goals and organizational growth without a hitch.
On-the-job training integrates learning and development into everyday work schedules. Employees grow by watching experts at work, asking them insightful questions and trying their hand at complex assignments. The constructive criticism and feedback they receive in the process help them identify their strengths, work on their weaknesses and assess their mistakes. They pick up skills from industry professionals and tips and tricks of the trade, going on to become high-performing members of the organization.
Flexibility is often considered a key driver of workforce productivity. On-the-job training teaches employees how to be flexible at work. Employees develop skills and aptitudes beyond what their position entails and are more willing to take on unexpected assignments. They can modify their work methods according to the needs of a particular client or situation. This helps an organization achieve its targets and improve customer satisfaction.
On-the-job training helps build a strong team of competent and responsible employees for the benefit of the entire organization in the long run. Over the years, many studies have shown that organizations with well-defined on-the-job training programs have seen sharp spikes in profit, and sustained business growth. This highlights the importance of on-the-job training.
Examples Of On-The-Job Training
Now that we know what is meant by on-the-job training and what its benefits are, let’s look at a few examples of on-the-job training—how training approaches are modified according to different sectors and job roles:
On-the-job training in sales organizations lets new sales employees observe their seniors closely when they interact with potential clients. This teaches new recruits customer relationship management. Eventually, the new employees are asked to make sales calls themselves in the presence of senior sales professionals. These calls are followed by a discussion wherein the trainees ask questions and receive feedback and guidance on sales prospecting techniques. They learn from their errors, develop relevant skills and are encouraged to make more deals.
Internships are an integral part of medical education and training. Every doctor has to undergo a rigorous internship or residency where they first learn by observing a senior doctor and then treat patients and perform medical procedures like surgeries under their supervision. This on-the-job training is as critical as their classroom learning.
Safety and emergency response
All organizations are required to train their employees in safety standards, security and emergency evacuation procedures. Designated security specialists and safety officers within an organization can provide the necessary training to employees and hold periodic safety drills. This training can also be given to new recruits during the orientation process.
On-the-job training is extremely useful in a service-oriented industry like hospitality. Hotel staff have to pick up several verbal and non-verbal cues from their guests to ensure a seamless customer experience. Many employees in the hospitality industry thus start out as trainees, where they learn about the protocols of their role, customer interaction, safety and hygiene standards, problem-solving and providing service with a smile from their seniors.
Many other sectors such as retail, manufacturing and warehousing also deploy on-the-job training methods. Irrespective of industry, all such approaches are designed to help employees gain practical, hands-on experience.
When Should You Consider On-The-Job Training?
The importance of on-the-job training for organizational growth can’t be overstated. Most organizations need to institute on-the-job training programs at some point to drive progress. When is the correct time to set up such programs? Here are some indicators:
Influx Of New Hires
A fast-growing organization can sometimes experience a continuous influx of new employees. If that’s the case, it’s time to launch a well-planned on-the-job training program. This will not only accelerate employee onboarding but also help new recruits quickly pick up vocational skills.
If an organization has recently changed its workflow or business processes, on-the-job training can help employees adapt to the change and familiarize themselves with their new job roles to avoid confusion. Employees can practice operating new software or hardware equipment and learn about newly refined organization policies.
Declining Productivity And Customer Satisfaction
A major sign that your organization requires on-the-job training is declining productivity and poor customer satisfaction. When employees aren’t performing up to expectations, it can result in stagnated growth. Training on-the-job can bring employees back on track, helping them identify their problem areas, work on them with received feedback and deliver up to the required levels.
Organizations must regularly analyze relevant business data such as revenue, customer acquisition rates and operational efficiency to assess performance. This will give them a clear idea on the best time to start on-the-job training.
The Golden Ticket
The benefits of on-the-job training extend beyond employee learning and development. Investing in their growth makes your employees feel valued and confident throughout their time with your organization. A skilled workforce also acts as the foundation of a future-proof business.
The Harappa 10 on 10 program can be your golden ticket to enhancing employee productivity and organizational growth. With modules conducted by multi-disciplinary faculty and designed for learning needs analysis, skill benchmarking, improving feedback and improved workplace behaviors, to name just a few, this program is just what you need to inject some fresh dynamism into your workforce and drive peak performance.
Employees are your organization’s greatest assets. Help them strike gold with the Harappa edge!
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