What Is On-The-Job Training? (With Tips and Benefits)
Training is an opportunity employers provide for their staff to learn a new role or to understand more about their current role. Typically, this training is part of the onboarding or promotion process, but many people complete periodic training throughout their careers. If you plan to complete training in your workplace, it's helpful to understand what you can expect and how you can benefit from it. In this article, we explain what on-the-job training is, discuss different types, explore the benefits of this training style, and share tips for taking advantage of these opportunities.
What is on-the-job training?
On-the-job training (OJT) is a training process that occurs directly through an employer. During these training sessions, employees typically learn about the daily tasks of their position and how to perform them. This training is important because different employers have their own procedures, and understanding them is essential to performing well. How a company trains its employees varies based on expectations, the complexity of procedures and processes, and how the company wants to grow. There are many types of OJT training, and they can vary in length depending on the company and career field.
Related: Vocational Training Programs in Canada
Types of on-the-job training
There are several types of on-the-job training, including:
One popular type of OTJ training is orientation training. Typically, orientation is for employees who are new to the company. It can range from a day to a few weeks long. In orientation, you may watch videos, sign paperwork, or take a class about employee conduct. Orientations usually include a detailed explanation of your new work environment. For example, they may cover which tools, equipment, and software you're expected to use, and who you can contact about specific questions and tasks. You might also complete activities to help you get to know your new coworkers.
Related: What To Expect From a Job Orientation (With Different Types)
Another type of training is learning directly from coworkers. This is a hands-on type of training where you work closely with an experienced employee at your new workplace. During this training, you can learn directly from your new coworker and emulate how they perform tasks. For example, employers often use it in call centres to show new employees how to operate the phones, how to take notes and navigate the computer systems, and how they're expected to handle each phone call. By being involved in a typical workday, you're better prepared to start your role.
Job rotation is another form of training. If your job is a space where you're expected to work in multiple departments, like in a grocery store, job rotation might be part of your training. Job rotation means you spend time in each station around a company, learning how each department works, and developing an understanding of how the business works overall. This kind of training is most efficient for these businesses because by training you to work in multiple areas of the company, you're prepared for the flexibility of this position.
Related: What is Job Rotation? (With Benefits and Examples)
Internships and apprenticeships
Internships and apprenticeships are also types of OTJ training. Internships are typically suitable for upcoming or recent graduates. They're popular in a variety of industries, including finance, marketing, hospitality and other fields.
Apprenticeships are most popular within industries where a mentor teaches skills and expertise over several years, where the apprentice learns the skills and duties of the role. Usually, people in trades like HVAC and carpentry need apprenticeships before they can start working independently. Whether you get paid for this training depends on the protocols of your specific employer.
Benefits of on-the-job training
Here are some of the top benefits of OTJ training for employees:
Paid training opportunities
One important benefit of completing training at work is the opportunity to get paid for your training. Typically, employers pay their employees for their OTJ training, which may depend on the hours you spend training or be a part of your salary. Companies see this type of training as an investment in their employees.
Related: Types of Workplace Training Programs
Developing new skills
OTJ training is also an opportunity for you to develop new career skills. During your training, you can practice your skills and gain new skills that you can use in your position. You can also use these skills throughout your career.
Improving job performance
Another benefit of OTJ training is that it can help you improve your job performance. OTJ training can teach you exactly how to perform your job's tasks, helping you to excel once you're done with training. It can also help you move into a new position and advance your career.
Related: 8 Job Training Methods to Improve Employee Productivity
Getting to know coworkers
Completing OTJ training can also allow you to get to know your coworkers and build stronger bonds. During your training, you can work closely with coworkers and learn from them. You may even complete your training with colleagues you don't work with directly, improving your overall network and sense of belonging within the company. This can help you form professional relationships and learn about your company culture.
Tips for thriving in these learning opportunities
There are several ways that you can make the most of your training. As you move through the program, be sure to:
One essential tip for making your training effective is to stay attentive. Even if you've worked in similar roles, try to find new knowledge or new skills in the training process. Find what's different from your other experiences. By seeking value in the training, you can stay engaged and gain a better understanding of your new role. Building on your understanding of the basics is an important way to succeed at your work.
Another tip is to ask plenty of questions during your training. If you're unsure of any tasks or company procedures, be sure to ask a coworker for clarity. Your training is an opportunity to learn about your job thoroughly, and instructors anticipate questions throughout the sessions. Asking questions can help you make sure you understand exactly how to perform your job once your training is over.
Observe your coworkers after training is over
You can also observe other people at your company. Remember what you've learned and observe your superiors. Notice what parts of your training your new supervisors are still using in their positions. Observe whether it's a supervisor's work ethic, customer service, or punctuality that got them their promotion. You can use these observations to think critically about how you can advance your career within the company.
As an example, they might train a retail representative to de-escalate an upset customer. While this training is important for the representative to do their job, it's a skill that is used in the work of supervisors and managers too. The same is true for jobs in IT where entry-level employees learn how to help customers with computer-related issues. Should they decide to continue growing within the company, these basic computer and customer service skills still serve them in higher positions.
Use your onboarding to advance your career
You can also think of your training as an opportunity to advance your career. One of the most sought-after traits in upper management is the ability to work independently while staying efficient. Your onboarding is the foundation of this. Look for opportunities to lead. For example, you can restock a shelf without being asked, help a coworker who's overwhelmed, or work extra hours to show your dedication. If you see an opportunity to help a new employee better understand their job, take on a leadership role and help them learn.
Taking initiative on the job shows your supervisors your integrity. It's a way to show that you want to work there and that you care about the company outside your job. This is the same initiative needed for higher positions, and presenting your managers with this evidence early can help better secure your position in the company.
Try to seek opportunities to keep learning about your company and the role. This can help you continue to build new skills and advance your career. You can seek out additional training or pursue further education. You can also take advantage of your company's professional development opportunities. Consider searching for opportunities like conferences or weekend training sessions you can attend to keep your skills and knowledge current.
Related: 5 Personal Development Tips to Progress Your Career
Create a personal connection
Aim to create a personal connection to your training. Having a personal interest in your company can help you build intrinsic motivation for your training, which can make it easier for you to retain information. Once you're done with your training, you can provide feedback to people at your company to help them improve the training process.
Now that you have a better understanding of what on-the-job training is you understand how you can benefit from it.
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