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On-the-Job Training: How to Create an Effective Program

Human resources are one of the most important assets of a business. How have you invested in this important asset then? By raising their salaries, offering better fringe benefits, or promotion? One thing you won’t want to miss when trying to engage your staff is to provide on-the-job (OTJ) training.

On-the-job training refers to the training in the workplace provided by HR officers, team leaders, and people with high expertise to employees who need to learn or better new skills and knowledge. 

In this post, we’ll present to you the benefits of on-the-job training, a guide to creating a successful on-the-job training program, and the top training methods that companies employ. 

The benefits of on-the-job training

It improves employee performance

The best way to improve employee performance is to provide quality training. Despite the amount of knowledge the employee may have acquired, learning along with practical tasks from people with higher expertise is always beneficial and necessary.

On-the-job training helps managers evaluate employees effectively and help employees improve. Employees get the chance to develop their knowledge and skills to meet the job requirements

It promotes employee self-development, well-being, and engagement

According to a LinkedIn research, employees who learn at work are 47% less likely to get stressed, 39% more likely to feel productive and successful, 23% more likely to take more responsibilities, 21% more likely to be confident and happy. Looking to improve your employee job satisfaction? This may be the cure. 

It promotes teamwork and team growth

People find it easier to contribute to the team when their company gives them clear instructions and adequate training. Providing interactive on-the-job training is an efficient way to ensure all members of the team are well-educated on the job. This also gives them an opportunity to better understand their teammates, and the team can grow together. 

3 steps to creating an effective on-the-job training program

on-the-job training provides employees specific skills

1. Evaluate employees and define needs

A correct evaluation of your employees’ skills and a clear definition of the necessary training are the cornerstone of any effective on-the-job training plan. Here are some ways of developing your employee evaluation and defining the needed training programs:

  • Job skill assessment tests: For new team members, tests are useful in assessing their levels of knowledge and skills. Refer to this guide to job skill assessment tests to build suitable tests for your team. 
  • Self-assessment: For more experienced team members, your on-the-job training plan needs to be more specifically catered to their needs. Building a self-assessment is a great way to understand your employees’ opinions on their own competence and their needs. 
  • Team & customer feedback: Employee self-opinions may be too subjective in some cases, so feedback from co-workers and customers is crucial.

2. Create the training program

Now that you know the competence of your employees and the kinds of training they need, it’s time to create the training program. Refer to this checklist while creating your program:

  • Define goals & objectives: Goals & objectives are the first and foremost for any plan. And making relevant and research-based goals & objectives is crucial to conducting and assessing the plan effectively. Make sure your goals & objectives are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound).
  • Choose the type of training: Based on your employee assessment, your goals & objectives, choose the type of training that best maximizes your training purpose. Refer to our on-the-job training ideas below. 
  • Create a timeline: Break down your program into small tasks and create a timeline for your program. This makes your program more achievable and easy to keep track of.
  • Engage necessary personnel: Determine and notify the necessary personnel, especially the trainers, in advance to make sure they can keep up with the program.
  • Prepare program materials: Research and tailor your materials to best suit the program.

3. Evaluate employees’ post-training and gather feedback

It’s absolutely necessary to evaluate your employees after training and get their feedback. This step helps you measure the effectiveness of your training program and better your next program, so don’t skip it!

5 best on-the-job training methods for your team

5 methods for on-the-job training

On-the-job training may come in many forms, each with certain benefits and disadvantages. We’ve curated this list of the 5 best training methods so you can apply the best ones for your team.

1. Job shadowing

Perhaps one of the most simple types of training is job shadowing. Job shadowing allows an employee to learn while observing another at work, normally their superior or more senior employee. Job shadowing is used a lot in internships. 

This type of training requires little effort and resources in planning and executing. All you need is to arrange a proficient person to perform their tasks in front of the employee. Job shadowing allows the trainer to continue with their usual work and the employee to learn in the meantime.

Job shadowing may be insufficient when it comes to skills that require more instructions and practice to acquire. Using job shadowing for employees who lack motivation may fail due to little interaction between the trainers and the employees. 

2. Mentoring

Nine in 10 workers who have a mentor are satisfied with their work, and more than half (57%) are very satisfied, according to a survey by CNBC & Survey Monkey. Those are impressive figures that demonstrate the power a mentorship can have on your employees. 

Mentoring allows more senior employees to connect and provide guidance for more junior employees. Mentoring benefits both the mentors and the mentees: the mentees receive great company and job insights that they could get nowhere else, and the mentors have an opportunity to exert their influence. Both the mentors and mentees are better motivated and engaged in the workplace.

Mentorship is much less likely to succeed if your company doesn’t promote the mentoring culture. Creating motivation for people to enter mentorships and supporting them to find their suitable mentor/mentee are crucial, should you decide to employ mentorship for your team. 

3. Coaching

While mentoring tends to be about creating a long-term relationship and giving the mentees guidance and experience when they need it, coaching is more of a short-term relationship that aims to help the coachees with specific outcomes. 

Coaching is a good way to teach specific skills, such as communication or presentation skills, to your employees. Coaching sessions tend to be in small groups, so employees are allowed to freely discuss with their coach and hence gain a better understanding. 

Because coaching is normally short-term, outcome-oriented (and normally charged too), it may not be possible to provide this type of training to every team member. So when you decide to coach or hire a coach for your employees, make sure the method suits your business.

4. Job rotation

Job rotation shifts employees between different assignments or functions in order to expose them to more aspects of the organization. Large companies such as Deloitte, Abbott, Goldman Sachs, and HSBC Holdings rely on job rotation as a way of providing employees with learning opportunities.

Job rotation helps tremendously with alleviating the monotony of the job (which employees all get after a period of time), building a wider experience, and developing more skills and knowledge for employees. It’s also one of the most effective methods of improving retention and maintaining your talent pipeline vibrant. 

With that said, job rotation isn’t for every company — only large organizations with multiple teams can do this. Job rotation can backfire if employees are transferred out of the jobs they like, cannot overcome the challenges at their new positions, or do not receive mentoring or learning opportunities in their new roles.

If you decide to offer job rotation, you need to figure out how to create a system that can smoothly transfer employees across teams without causing disruptions.

5. Periodic training sessions

on-the-job training example: Periodic training

Periodic training sessions are absolutely necessary for jobs that involve frequent innovations or modifications. 

These sessions help brush up on employees’ skills and knowledge regularly and update them on must-know innovations or modifications in a timely manner. Every company can and should have periodic training sessions to ensure their employees’ good performance is maintained.

Avoid stuffing too many training sessions in a period since it can make your employees suffocate. Also, refrain from putting too long gaps between your sessions so that they don’t forget the things they were trained.


On-the-job training is crucial for both employers and employees. Employees can improve themselves, hence contributing better to your business. Craft a training program based on our guide, involve the best training methods, and see what works for your business!

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