On-the-Job Training

There are several methods of employee training that are used to teach employees how to navigate a work environment.

One of the most common training methods used today is on-the-job training (OJT). Typically, OJT occurs after you have been employed and requires the direct supervision of a manager, coach, mentor or experienced employee, who are called trainers or supervisors. Read the sections below to discover what OJT is and how it may benefit employees and employers.

What is on-the-job training?

On-the-job training refers to training conducted at an employee’s workplace while he or she is on the clock. This type of job training is designed to increase worker productivity and familiarize employees with company policies quickly. In doing so, companies employ a variety of methods to ensure employees grasp job information efficiently. The following OJT training methods are used by companies:

  • Job rotation: This OJT method is the process of moving, or rotating, employees from one position to another within the same company. While this method is only applicable in certain fields, it is a great way to expose employees to other work and help them understand how the entire company functions. Job rotation can also foster empathy in the employees for other employees, which may encourage better collaboration.
  • Coaching: During coaching training, supervisors or trainers give feedback to the employees. It is important to remember that coaching OJT strategies may not involve actual training and may, instead, rely on the observation of the employees.
  • Step-by-step training: This is often a structured training approach that requires supervisors’ detailed instructions. In this OJT method, supervisors explain how to perform daily tasks, operate company machinery or software and correct mistakes. Supervisors are usually very involved with each trainee’s progress until they deem him or her ready to continue working independently.
  • Team assignments: This OJT method is slightly unconventional and places serious responsibility in the hands of multiple, new employees. The responsibilities given to these trainees may include solving companies’ issues, suggesting changes to companies’ policies or completing a teamwork building exercise.

However, companies tend to use a combination of multiple OJT methods when training a new employee. Generally, supervisors depend on hands-on learning that makes employees attempt work themselves. To guarantee that OJT is implemented properly, companies should choose supervisors or trainers who know the importance of employee training and understand company policies and individual tasks required for the position.

In addition to different OJT methods, there are two main ways OJT is presented to employees. Companies may have formal on-the-job training programs or informal training practices. For formal OJT programs, employees may be evaluated and be required to accomplish certain tasks before they are released from the program. Informal training consists of any manner of instruction, explanation or teaching that arises naturally without the backing of the company.

Advantages of on-the-Job Training

OJT has immense benefits for both employees and employers. For instance, employees can benefit from learning about their responsibilities in a controlled environment with the equipment and resources that will be available to them during normal work hours. Because of this emphasis on the workspace, employees can easily acquaint themselves with the work environment. Subsequently, employees can gain confidence in their abilities during OJT and may remain employed longer than employees who have not had sufficient OJT. Whereas offsite training can decrease learning retention once employees return to their workplaces, OJT enables employees to learn essential information and work simultaneously.

Another benefit employees may experience after completing OJT is an increase in their productivity. The simple and complex training used in OJT that utilizes hands-on learning promotes productivity due to the immediate immersion in the job. Employees can begin completing daily tasks as soon as they are hired with the assistance of OJT methods. Employers can also benefit from the improved productivity of their workers and reach production goals sooner.

Finally, employers may find that OJT is more affordable than offsite training. Depending on the training methods used and the level of training required to assimilate employees into the company, OJT may be cheaper than classroom instruction for employers. On average, OJT requires fewer resources and is considered more enjoyable and advantageous than some classroom learning.

Disadvantages of on-the-Job Training

OJT does not exist without its faults, however. The coworkers and employers chosen as supervisors may not be the ideal teachers for new employees. Also, supervisors are subject to mistakes just as the trainees are. Consequently, supervisors may teach incorrect information to the trainees, wrongly interpret the trainees’ actions or further confuse them. If new employees do not receive enough instruction and attention, accidents may happen, and the advantages of on-the-job training may become insignificant.

Even if OJT supervisors can address all the trainees’ concerns, training is often rushed in favor of other responsibilities. As a result, trainees may feel irrelevant and be unable to complete their tasks. Rushed training inevitably leads to confusion and frustration for both the supervisors and trainees.

Although OJT is great for new employees, experienced employees may be disrupted by the training. Not only do experienced employees help implement OJT but they also have their own duties. The inclusion of OJT does not eliminate other responsibilities, but experienced employees may feel overwhelmed by their OJT and work obligations, which may diminish efficiency.

How on-the-Job Training Differs from Other Training

Like internships and apprenticeships, on-the-job training occurs when employees are engaged in productive work under the supervision of their employers. However, unlike internships and apprenticeships that accept temporary workers, OJT is reserved for current employees rather than potential employees. Additionally, all OJT pays trainees while only some internships promise compensation, and OJT is not prestigious like apprenticeships. Perhaps the most notable difference between internships, apprenticeships and OJT is that employees do not apply for admittance into OJT. On-the-job training is a standard practice for most companies, but not all companies offer internships and apprenticeships.

Another type of training that differs from OJT is job shadowing. Though job shadowing is similar to OJT in that it involves the participation of a supervisor or person of authority and a trainee to gain job experience, job shadowing does not happen during regular work hours. Job shadowing is not always performed by a current employee, either, and may not compensate participants.

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