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On-The-Job Training: How to Develop an Effective Program

Whether part of new hire training or career development, on-the-job training can help your staff learn new skills while remaining productive. Here are some guidelines for developing and implementing an effective on-the-job training program:

Understand your needs.

Identify the skills and knowledge your employees need to succeed now and in the future. Interview and observe employees, look for inefficiencies in the company and determine whether training would help or if company processes need to change. Once you understand the potential challenges employees face, identify what training can help meet your needs.

Determine training methods.

On-the-job training allows employees to learn by observing and participating in the work of more seasoned employees. Hands-on work may involve demonstrations, simulations, coaching/mentoring, or job shadowing. Classroom training, such as role playing, lectures, and tutorials may also help employees improve their skills.

Be inclusive.

The decision to select an employee for training must be made without regard to race, sex, religion, age, disability, and any other characteristics that are protected under federal, state, and local laws. Additionally, under the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state laws, you may be required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who have disabilities so that they may participate in training.

Choose trainers carefully.

Make sure your trainers are proficient in the work and are skilled at transferring their knowledge and experience to others. Trainers should create a positive learning environment, tailor their program to different learning styles (see below), and inspire and motivate trainees.

Consider different learning styles.

Take an approach that addresses different learning styles. For example, some employees may prefer a slide presentation with a lot of visual content, whereas others may learn better through discussions and role playing. The key is not to choose one over the other but rather to present the information in several different ways.

Look for government incentives.

Some jurisdictions have programs that offer incentives for employers that provide on-the-job training to unemployed, underemployed, and dislocated workers. These programs typically pay a certain portion of the employee's wages to help defray the costs of training. Check with your state or local jurisdiction for details.

Evaluate.

To determine the effectiveness of training, establish standards to evaluate each trainee. At the end of training, and at set intervals following the training, assess whether employees have the needed skills and knowledge. Make sure these skills have transferred to their job and look for impacts on productivity. Additionally, ask trainees to evaluate their trainers and the program as a whole.

Follow-up.

At regular intervals after the training, check in with the employee to determine how much of the training they are retaining and using, solicit feedback on their experience, and provide ongoing support as necessary.

Conclusion

On-the-job training can help your employees build on their skills and knowledge while improving productivity.

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