Starting a New Job

On-the-Job Training for Efficient Staff Development

February 11, 2021

On-the-job training (OJT) can help you perform better in your job by developing specific aptitudes and knowledge related to your duties. The experiential learning through on-the-job training can help you succeed in roles that involve using specialized machinery, software, equipment or hands-on tasks. In this article, we detail the purpose, types and benefits of OJT.

What is on-the-job training?

On-the-job training is learning by watching others and gaining hands-on experience in completing work supervised by a professional trainer, coworker or training manager. The period of your OJT depends on the amount of training you need to perform your work capably. The training is usually conducted by a manager who can teach you the intricacies of the procedures and processes you need to master.

On-the-job training information for students

Students typically need extensive training as they may not possess experience in a particular industry or role. Pupils often undergo OJT as part of their academic curriculum at technical institutions. For instance, at some schools, students complete internships during which they get experience in a job or career path, which earns them school credits. Further, students can also get extensive OJT in their initial job after they graduate.

Apart from role-related skills and practical procedures, students can also learn workplace standards and general information in their initial job. These include company hierarchy, dress code, industry jargon, productivity expectations and working relationships with colleagues.

Types of on-the-job training

Although companies may decide to use a combination of them, there are four typical types of on-the-job training: unstructured, structured, standalone and blended. Here are the characteristics of each:

Unstructured on-the-job training

In unstructured OJT, you observe an experienced senior perform their tasks for a specified period. You might watch a single staff member or multiple employees to learn job-relevant skills and abilities. Unstructured OJT is ideal for positions that do not need specialised skills or complex tasks. Planning time is not required for this method, and you can effortlessly personalise the learning based on your role and existing knowledge and skills.

Structured on-the-job training

In structured OJT, the employer prepares a detailed training plan for the new hire. This plan includes a tasks checklist, details about the supervisor for each task and the training's desired objectives. Some OJT programs require the employee to sign a contract to complete their training. Structured OJT thus requires more effort and time to implement, and is often more effective in preparing new hires for their role. Plus, it enhances accountability for both trainers and trainees.

Standalone on-the-job training

For some roles, hands-on practice and job shadowing are enough to learn the basics required for the role. Companies use the standalone method for uncomplicated roles or if the employee already has previous experience in the job.

Blended on-the-job training

Blended learning fuses OJT with other instruction types. Apart from gaining hands-on experience and shadowing, the new hire also reads job-related materials, watches videos, attends industry training events and participates in online courses and classroom learning. Blended learning combines a range of training methods and is therefore effective for positions that involve specialised skills or complex tasks. This type of training is ideal for organisations with specific processes and procedures that should be learnt by employees.

Benefits of on-the-job training

Efficient OJT can help recruits prepare to work productively and successfully. Employees get added knowledge and skills and extra motivation to perform admirably. Enterprises gain the benefit of engaged staff members who are willing to work hard to achieve their targets. Here are some other ways on-the-job training can benefit company staff and companies alike:

For company staff, OJT offers the following advantages:

  • Team atmosphere: On-the-job training enables new hires to interact closely with their supervisors and peers from the beginning. They can thus understand their coworkers better and learn to work in cohesion with their team members. In this way, OJT can create a spirit of camaraderie and shared enthusiasm in a firm.
  • Paid training: Organisations can compensate trainees for the OJT period, which will be a bonus in addition to learning new skills.
  • Skills development: New personnel are likely to find onsite training and learning to be interactive and engaging. They'll show more interest in developing the needed job-related skills and competencies.
  • Enhanced retention: Staff members are likely to retain and remember the knowledge and information they acquire during OJT. On-the-job training can help to improve job satisfaction and performance and make employees more competent and confident in performing their tasks.

For companies, OJT provides the following benefits:

  • Concentrated learning: OJT accelerates learning and minimises the chances of needing correction later after the trainees complete their training. This training method helps employees avoid making assumptions about general industry practices and processes, and thoroughly learn the exact standards and requirements for their role.
  • Can reduce staff turnover: OJT equips employees with the needed skills to perform their tasks competently. This can increase their job satisfaction, which means they're more likely to stay for a long time with the company.
  • Cost-efficient: Organisations need not spend money on expensive training sessions or conferences as OJT allows employees to learn from their supervisors and coworkers. Further, current staff members can sharpen their skills and use their daily work to enable new recruits to contribute to company goals.

The different types of OJT are beneficial for a company as they help to create a culture that enables employees to continue to educate and reskill themselves to perform their tasks better. Thus, OJT is a cost-efficient and effective method to improve staff efficiency and productivity.

On-the-job training methods

Here are a few widely used on-the-job training methods:

  • Coaching: This method involves training by an experienced or senior employee who gives instructions to the new recruit. It involves one-to-one training and the trainee can get answers to their questions from the senior staff member's demonstrations and guidance.
  • Mentoring: A manager or senior helps lower-rung personnel with strategies and ideas on how to perform their day-to-day functions capably. New recruits and other juniors can examine the expertise and experience of senior managers to boost their knowledge and acquire new skills.
  • Job rotation: In this method, the employee is periodically moved to other connected roles so that they become well-versed in multiple positions. The technique helps to avert boredom as personnel can look forward to performing different kinds of tasks and learn the skills for a range of related roles. They can also develop a closer rapport with their colleagues.
  • Instructional training: In this method, a trainer creates a detailed coaching program that includes job overview, instructions and a demonstration of the needed skills for the role. Trainees can get clarifications to their doubts from the trainer and also provide their feedback on how effective the program is for them.
  • Understudy: A senior employee trains an understudy to perform their role and take over their position after the former vacates their position due to retirement, death, promotion or transfer.
  • Apprenticeship: This method of training is given to workers in technical, trade and crafts fields that need long-term learning before a trainee can gain proficiency in their discipline. Apprenticeship combines on-the-job and classroom training and requires close supervision of the trainee. An apprentice can undergo learning for a few years to learn the needed skills to become a specialist in their chosen field. Apprentice training is conducted for jobs like a toolmaker, plumber, electrician, mechanic or craftsman who needs extensive hands-on skills.

Differences between off-the-job and on-the-job training

The main differences between off-the-job and on-the-job training include:

  • Onsite training involving hands-on experience is termed on-the-job training. In contrast, off-the-job training means coaching staff members outside the role's location.
  • On-the-job training is practical, while off-the-job training is more theoretical in nature.
  • On-the-job training is conducted without any work disruption as the coaching and production occur in tandem. Off-the-job training entails work stoppage during the first training, which the employee later translates into performance and productivity.
  • Experienced staff members give on-the-job training, while experts provide off-the-job training.
  • On-the-job training is typically more cost-effective compared to off-the-job training.

On-the-job training examples

Here are some examples of how a few sectors typically utilise OJT:

Example 1: HVAC tech

  • Attend service calls with other techs.
  • Practice with equipment and operating tools commonly utilised on the job.
  • Watch how techs interact with consumers and describe service choices.
  • Review safety protocols and standards.
  • Get knowledge about HVAC equipment elements and energy-efficient products.

Example 2: Warehouse employee

  • Practice utilising warehouse machineries like scissor lifts and pallet jacks.
  • Learn about the warehouse's organisational system.
  • Watch the correct method to sort and store products on racks.
  • Review safety protocols and inventory management processes.
  • Prepare packages for shipment.

Example 3: Collections specialist

  • Read and follow sample scripts to learn to make professional collection calls.
  • Observe how agents manage customer service problems.
  • Learn how to use software solutions utilised to store, review and update buyer information details.
  • Practice processing consumer payments under a manager's supervision.
  • Lastly, study filing procedures and systems to mail letters to customers.

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