New employee training is vital to the success and culture of a company. And while eLearning and other more formal methods are excellent options for much of your onboarding, on-the-job training (OJT) is a vital piece that should not be overlooked. On-the-job training for onboarding allows your company to quickly, easily, and effectively train new staff members in real time in real work situations.
What is on-the-job training for onboarding?
On-the-job training refers to a type of learning that takes place while the trainee is performing the typical tasks of a job. OJT is conducted at a person’s worksite and allows them to experience the natural workflow of the job. It usually combines activities such as observing others and getting hands-on experience doing the work with someone else’s assistance, such as a manager or coworker. OJT can be done as a stand-alone practice but is usually incorporated into a broader onboarding plan.
If you have not used (or have under-used) OJT in your employee onboarding process, here are some reasons you might want to consider adding it now.
Benefits of OJT
Why is on-the-job training beneficial? Let’s take a look at several ways OJT can help boost your training program.
Many aspects of employee training are time-intensive to set up. Orientations, online learning modules, facility tours, and recorded webinars are just a few structured learning opportunities that can be beneficial for new employees, getting them up to speed with workplace policies, rules, and processes. OJT is not as structured as other learning modalities and can allow you to save time while promoting learning in a more organic way.
OJT doesn’t just save you time but other resources as well. Your trainee uses existing tools and resources, such as documents, job aids, and equipment that employees already access on a regular basis. You don’t need screen capturing software or eLearning platforms. OJT is cost effective, and you can implement it anywhere employees work.
Understand the culture
New employees might ask about work culture during the interview process, but the best way for them to gain understanding is to experience it themselves. OJT allows them to immerse themselves in the culture while still learning and observing those around them.
Help with learning retention
The structure of OJT allows employees to put their new skills to the test right away, which helps with knowledge retention. Rather than reading through a scenario and having to retrieve the information later when it applies, new learners can commit things to memory quickly by learning through doing.
Since OJT is performed under supervision, new employees get direct, immediate feedback in the line of work. Learning how to do the job correctly the first time sets the new employee up for success, and you can rest assured they know what they’re doing!
Spread the work
Onboarding new employees can be exhausting for HR and managers. OJT can use employees throughout the company, at all different levels, and have them participate in the onboarding process.
Tips for creating effective on-the-job training for onboarding
Creating OJT opportunities isn’t quite as simple as throwing a new hire onto the work floor. There should be a method to the OJT plan. Here are some tips to consider when creating OJT for onboarding.
Staff will benefit from working in a variety of settings and with a variety of people. If shadowing is part of the OJT plan, make sure the trainee has an opportunity to work with a diverse group of employees, allowing for both newer and veteran employees to work with trainees.
Keep it semi-structured
Although OJT is less structured than many types of onboarding exercises, it doesn’t have to be a free-for-all. You should develop an OJT plan for a new employee that includes where they should be, who they should work with, and what tasks they should complete. A checklist or list of questions might help a new employee feel like their training has purpose and structure.
Allow for reflection
Allow time for employees to reflect upon their learning and ask questions after OJT. Help them make connections between what they experienced and policies or procedures that support it. Regular check-ins during the OJT onboarding period will allow natural times for reflection.
Give it some time
When you think about OJT, you likely think about an employee’s first few days on the job. It is important that new employees get hands-on experience in the first few days, but it doesn’t have to stop there. One expert recommends that effective onboarding should include follow-up meetings with a new employee after 30, 60, and 90 days. An OJT onboarding schedule could last for 90 days, or even longer, giving new employees time to observe different employees and prolong their learning and reflecting period.
Don’t leave them stranded
Employees who are in training may not be ready to perform work independently during their OJT onboarding time. Make sure they have a peer or supervisor nearby to support them, and encourage them to ask for help whenever necessary. Start with having them work independently on smaller tasks and work up to the more complex ones. Ensure that employees around them know what their limits are, so they aren’t put in the tough situation of being asked to do something they haven’t been trained for.
You don’t have to figure it out alone
On-the-job training for onboarding is a tool that can round out your onboarding process. By using OJT, you can save time and resources, and help new employees learn the job and the culture of the organization quickly. If your company doesn’t use OJT, now is the time to start. EdgePoint Learning training experts are here to help with just-in-time learning tools, job aids, and help with training program planning. Contact us today for a consultation.