We learn most of what we know about our work “on the job,” but few companies take the time to support and encourage that learning. Training often resides in classrooms, webinars, and videos for which we take time away from the job.
However, more and more learning and development experts, such as the folks at the Internet Time Alliance, believe that using work experience to train employees may provide better results than relying on courses and videos alone.
We like videos and courses because they’re easy to administer and manage. And we’re used to learning this way. In contrast, actual work is messy, unpredictable, and complicated. So in order to use the real world as your training content, company culture and management has to shift into a new concept of learning. And cultural change is never easy.
Are you ready for on-the-job learning?
So before you decide if it’s something you should tackle, see if on-the-job learning is really right for your company. If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then your group is ready to see great results from work-based learning, but if you answer “no,” it may not be the best approach right now.
Do managers see employee development as part of their jobs?
A “work as training” approach asks managers to consult with each employee on skills development and manage job assignments with an eye toward improving those skills through experience. A 2015 poll by Right Management found that 68% of employees do not have managers actively involved in their career development. But Gallup reports that employees with engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those with disconnected supervisors.
Does your market change rapidly?
Courses and videos take time to develop. If your market moves quickly, then your training may be out of date before it hits the street. On-the-job continual learning might be your only option for staying ahead of the competition.
Do you prefer to spend money on other projects besides training?
If you have a big training budget, then you can spring for courses or simulations. But if you need to focus resources elsewhere, on-the-job training can be an economical option. Dan Schwabel, founder of WorkplaceTrends.com, writes in an Inc.com article that you can implement work-based training with little or no cost through mentoring and job shadowing.
Is your culture supportive and open?
On-the-job training asks employees to help each other, share experiences and openly accept feedback from others. If your culture doesn’t support these activities, it won’t work well for you. However, if you’d like to shift to a more collaborative culture, you can initiate change by actively supporting work-based learning through coaching and mentoring.
Do you have or want to create an apprenticeship, mentoring program, or internship?
All these programs embrace on-the-job training as part of their philosophies. And according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2015 Internship & Co-op Survey, 51.7% of interns eventually become full-time employees. So it’s a great “try before you buy” recruitment strategy. If you’d like to bring these programs to your company or already have them, they can be the catalyst for using on-the-job learning through the rest of the company.
Do you leave employees to “figure it out” most of the time?
If employees typically just “figure it out,” and you don’t have the time or resources for formal courses, on-the-job training lets you support their efforts and help them learn faster. You don’t have to solve all your training problems at once, but if you can provide even a little support, employees will appreciate it, and they’ll become productive faster.
What did you decide?
Work-based training can be some of the most effective employee development that you do. But if you want it to work, you have to look at training with new eyes. You have to be willing to step out of the classroom, shut down the videos, and think of every job assignment as opportunity for growth. If you’ve answered “yes” to some or all of these questions, then you’re ready to dive in and try it.
Want to learn more about work-based learning for your company? Contact us today.