Employee training is an investment for an organization's success in terms of achieving business goals, customer satisfaction, and branding. Continuous development of functional and technical skills of the employees results in improvement of their productivity and efficiency at work. Development of soft skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication help them progress to leadership roles. Employee development is also critical for strategy implementation such as succession planning, reduction in employee attrition, and improved brand image.
Theoretical training helps to a certain extent by allowing the employees to gain knowledge, whereas training at the workplace needs immediate application of ideas and skills. To meet this requirement, organizations invest in “On-The-Job Training” or OJT programs.
In this blog, we will look at OJT is and how it helps in developing employee skills.
What Is OJT?
On-the-Job Training (OJT) is a training method that includes hands-on activities in the work environment related to employees’ roles and responsibilities. It uses real-life scenarios rather than theoretical content delivery to help employees acquire new skills. OJT assignments give employees a chance to practice the role-specific work.
The purpose of OJT is to enable the employees to instantly apply what they have learned in the OJT. The training is conducted in the normal work environment of the employee, by using the usual infrastructure, tools/ machines and other job aides. It may also be conducted in a simulated work environment.
For example, if the employee's responsibility is to create a project status report in Excel, the trainer will guide him / her to create the actual report at the workstation (hands-on, employee’s computer, real-life data) instead of showing a presentation of the steps to create a sample report.
Training Requirements vs. OJT
In the corporate workplace, there are different training requirements based on the employee roles and responsibilities, phases of work environment, client or industry requirements, organizational transition or change management, employee role changes, etc. Let’s look into each training type and how those can be linked with OJT.
How OJT can be used
Employee roles and responsibilities
Technical training, function or team-specific training
Demo on tools/ machines used, case-study assignments based on workplace requirements
Phases of work environment
Fresh recruits: Orientation, Onboarding
In-person meeting with key role-holders, visit to the workplace/ factory, etc.
Client/ Industry requirements
New software, new machinery, new packaging, etc.
Demo on tools/ machines used, Case-study assignments linked to client/ industry requirements
Organizational transition or change management
New process, new department, new roles, compliance
Demo or simulation of the new process/ function/ activity or compliance, Case-study assignments linked to the changes
Employee role changes
Promotion to bigger roles, transfer to different functional team
In-person meeting to introduce employees to the new role, demo/ simulation of new functional activities. Case-study assignments based on new role requirements
Benefits of OJT
Following are the key benefits of OJT.
Simple & Quick Learning
A practical execution of work under the guidance of an expert is the simplest and fastest way of learning relevant skills. Hence, the most efficient way to learn the skills required for a profession is via on-the-job training. Nobody really would like to take time off from their job to sit in a classroom while they could be learning on the job.
Adapting Faster to the New Work Environment
Corporate workplaces need the employees to be job-ready in a short while. Also, new employees may not get away with mistakes, especially in the areas of retail business, manufacturing, and customer service. With OJT, employees will be able to adapt to the new role and processes faster and be ready to apply the newly learned skill immediately. Employees will receive faster onboarding and level up to an acceptable level of performance.
Easy to Arrange
We don't need to create a presentation with a lot of content for OJT, nor do we need to pay a high-priced outside trainer. Finding existing staff who are skilled at their jobs is all that is necessary. Let them instruct the learner in how to execute it, assign tasks, and offer feedback.
Decrease in Employee Churn
One of the reasons for high employee attrition rates is the lack of clarity in job responsibilities. If the employees are not sure of the expected level of work, they feel stressed and that results in employee churn and resignations. On-the-job training demonstrates to employees precisely what tasks they must perform and how to do so. They practice every task that is expected of them as part of their training process, and they are given comprehensive information about the procedures that go into their job. Employees are then motivated to work as effectively as possible.
Making of a Team Player
While participating in OJT, the new recruits familiarize themselves with their colleagues and become a part of the team. The interaction with co-workers during OJT builds up the team-spirit in the new employees that helps them in future to communicate clearly and openly with peers and employees across teams.
On-the-job training is less expensive and can be easily deployed as part of a regular workday for the employees. Also, the trainer is an existing employee. The time taken in an OJT is less than that of a traditional training session. Overall, an OJT is a low-cost program with maximum benefits for the organization.
OJT: A Step-By-Step Guide
OJT can be broadly categorized into two types:
Unstructured OJT or Shadowing
Unstructured OJT (UOJT) or Shadowing
Such OJT programs do not have clear learning objectives or plans. It is not conducted in an organized way and simply executed by assigning an employee to follow the working-style of another experienced employee (“Joe follows Joe”). This may result in an unpredictable level of learning for the new employee, UOJT is also termed as “shadowing” and can be applied for small workplace with limited skill requirements.
Structured OJT (SOJT)
In SOJT programs, there is a clear and well-thought plan with the learning objectives and expected results. For example, a new employee with a skill level of 2 out of 5, must achieve level 4 after SOJT. This also includes responsibilities of OJT supervisor or mentor, specific milestones of the program, and an evaluation method. SOJT programs are effective and detailed, and might require more effort and money to execute.
Let’s focus on SOJT, how to plan, arrange, execute, and evaluate such programs.
Like any other training program, OJT also requires planning. A training calendar based on the training requirements (specified earlier) would help the planning part.
Shown below the steps for SOJT:
Step-1: Make a list of employees to be trained
This can be done with the help of the HR team and function heads. They need to nominate employees whose skill gaps were identified or for whom an orientation is required for a new role. The ideal way is to fill up a Training Requirement form every month, with a detailed description of the required skills that the nominated employees need to attain. This helps framing the outline of the OJT structure.
Step-2: Identify the Trainers
Most of the time, the trainers are existing employees with higher level of skills and with more experience with well-known performance trends. Eventually, the trainer becomes a mentor and the employee, the mentee, leading to a one-on-one interactive OJT. This, in comparison with traditional classroom or theory-based group training, is more effective. In case, internal trainer is not available, a third-party vendor with the same experience can be hired.
Step-3: Prepare the OJT Schedule
The OJT Schedule includes day-to-day learning topics with specific hands-on exercises along with start/ end dates and times-slots, location, name of the trainer, etc. This can be created by the trainer in coordination with the head of the relevant function, the HR team, and the training manager. Different role-holders may have different structures. This schedule can also be used to track the progress in terms of completion status.
OJT Schedule Sample
Step-4: Communicate the OJT schedule
This part is very important - the employee must receive the schedule with an encouraging note, at least a week in advance, so that there is enough time to plan the work schedule, block the calendar, and inform the concerned stakeholders.
Step-5: Coordinate the OJT execution and track progress.
Just like any other training program, it is important that the participants follow the schedule, mark their attendance, and complete assignments on time.
Step-6: Provide training aids
The participants might require training aids or handouts such as Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), work instructions, checklists, tools/ machinery required. For example, an OJT on preventive maintenance requires a list of steps with detailed explanation.
Also, a workbook to write day-to-day learning, assignments, completion status, etc. helps the employees track their progress themselves and to present it to the managers.
It is important to evaluate employee performance for every OJT. This can be done based on the trainer/ mentor feedback, performance scores on OJT assignments and the workbook evaluation. Frequency and method of the evaluation can be decided based on the OJT structure and employee’s RJD (Role Job Description) provided by the HR team.
Last but not the least, program-end feedback or performance rating is an excellent technique to boost participant confidence and motivation and to determine whether they are job-ready.
Who Is Using OJT ?
Now that we have a better understanding of how we can make our OJT programs successful, let’s take a look at a few top examples of employee training and development programs.
General Electric Company (GE)
The General Electric Company (GE) is an American multinational company, best known for its work in the Power, Renewable Energy, Aviation and Healthcare industries. GE invests more than U.S. $1 billion in employee development each year, a major part of which goes into the on-the-job learning experiences.
One of the key strategies of employee development by the American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, Walmart, is through on-the-job training.
Chevron Corporation is an American multinational energy corporation. Chevron is engaged in every aspect of the oil and natural gas industries. Employee training in Chevron must include “hands-on” after which work-related assignments are given.
Reinforcement of OJT
After the OJT program is over, what next? Do we leave it to the employees how they use the skills and knowledge acquired in the OJT? Could we be rest assured that they would apply their skills effectively?
The answer would be - without reinforcement, it is most likely that the employees will not dive deep into their daily workload using all the new skills they just learned. So, we reinforce by giving the employees the responsibilities and tasks immediately after the training that they cannot accomplish without applying the new skills or knowledge.
We offer a wide range of services at S4Carlisle, including full course design and deployment support. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can collaborate to create and implement a systematic on-the-job training program for your employees.