Instructional Design

On-the-job Training: Expectations vs Reality

On-the-job Training (OJT): Expectations VS Reality - TalentLMS

Name a training approach that’s focused on employees’ learning needs, perfect for building strong relationships between managers and teams, as well as relevant and applicable. If you’re not already thinking it, it’s on-the-job training (OJT). And today, the importance of on-the-job training makes it an integral part of most company L&D strategies.

Still, not all companies see the benefits of OJT training come to life. Some training managers even struggle to get support from the suits on the top floor. Why? Because of a few common misperceptions.

So, we’re here to bust the top 4 myths about on-the-job training programs, and close the gap between expectations and reality.

Expectation 1: OJT training is expensive

Setting up an on-the-job training program takes time, and it takes money. You’ll need to invest in learning design, training materials, subject matter expertise, and even a little training for on-the-job trainers! Shew. Sounds expensive, right? Well, here’s a touch of reality (based on hard evidence, by the way) to set your mind at ease.

Reality: It’s as much of an investment as other types of training

Keen to know a fun fact from LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report? An incredible 93% of employees say that they’ll stay at a company longer if it invests in their career development. Even more interesting is that nearly 70% of them said they prefer to learn at work.

Huh. So this must mean that investing in on-the-job training helps companies to retain employees. And we all know that retaining employees spares companies the high costs of replacing them.

So, you expected it to be expensive. But now you see that not investing in OJT is probably the most expensive decision your company could make.

Expectation 2: On-the-job training takes up too much time

Of all the pros and cons of on-the-job training, the most spoken about ones have usually got to do with time. And the most important one? That preparing for OJT takes time. The manager’s duty as an OJT trainer is time-consuming. And, of course, employees have less time to be productive when they’re receiving training. But what if these expectations are misinformed?

Reality: It’s time well spent

Emily Poague, VP of Marketing at LinkedIn Learning, said that “What managers must understand is that developing their people and teams is a key responsibility, and it’s what helps to keep their teams engaged”. And she’s not wrong. Gallup recently discovered that 70% of the variance in team engagement can be attributed to the manager.

So, what better way to engage and motivate staff than by forming strong employee-manager bonds through OJT training programs? It is the future, after all. A time for bosses to become coaches and mentors, rather than villains from an 80s buddy cop movie. And, if they do it well, time spent learning on the job could help employees become high performers more quickly – which actually saves time. Touché.

On-the-job Training (OJT): Expectations VS Reality - TalentLMS

Expectation 3: OJT training is unnecessary if you hire the right skills

Well, sure. Hiring top talent was, is, and always will be the dream. Because when you find the best skills for the job, new employees can get straight to the grind without ever needing a single dollar worth of training. Or can they?

Reality: It’s essential for developing the skills you can’t hire

There’s just one problem with this expectation. Top talent is scarce and it’s short-lived. You see, we’re in the middle of a skills shortage, and according to research, the future isn’t looking any brighter. In fact, the global talent shortage is expected to reach 85.2 million people by 2030, which would cost companies trillions in lost economic opportunity. Ouch.

Hmm. What to do, what to do? Recognize the importance of training in the workplace! Training that is continuous, applicable and forward-thinking. Training that develops the skills that aren’t yet available in the workforce. Training that teaches employees skills that might not have existed 5 years ago.

Expectation 4: On-the-job training is just part of the job

What’s the difference between training on the job and learning on the job? They’re the same, right? Wrong. And yet many companies confuse informal on the job training with the concept of learning through experience.

Reality: It’s a strategic and intentional approach to workplace learning

Learning by experience has a lot to do with making mistakes, learning from them, and doing better on the next attempt. A far stretch from the strategic, planned and job-relevant training that is OJT.

Learning from experience is spontaneous. But a structured on-the-job training model uses targeted methods to help employees learn procedural steps, company values, job tasks and other important knowledge and skills about the company and role.

On-the-job training methods are often a combination of traditional training, like mentoring and workshops, and eLearning courses that allow employees to tailor training to their jobs and learning needs.

Over to you

Now, with these 4 myths sufficiently debunked, you can be confident that the purpose of on-the-job training is strategic. When well-planned and supported, OJT offers time and cost savings, more engaged and productive employees, and the development of skills that can’t be sourced. With that said, consider the MIC dropped.


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