Learning and Development

On-the-job Training

On-the-job training isn’t always standard practice, but it can increase productivity and efficiency in specific industries. Not only that, it can benefit the company as a whole, from reducing training costs to creating more effective, motivated employees.

This article will cover how to begin on-the-job training for employees and how it can benefit your company and workforce. Once you read this guide, you will understand the advantages of on-the-job training and how to implement it at your workplace successfully.


What is on-the-job training?

On-the-job training (OJT) is a practical approach to acquiring new competencies and skills needed for a job in a real, or close to real, working environment.

It is often used to learn how to use particular tools or equipment in a live-work practice, simulated, or training environment.

Rather than showing employees presentations or giving them worksheets, they learn about the job by doing it. This training happens at the workplace, with guidance from a supervisor, manager, or another knowledgeable employee.

New employees that undergo on-the-job training get a firsthand look at all the work procedures they can expect to encounter. They learn workplace expectations, equipment operation, and any other skill they need to complete their job successfully.

On-the-job training may take anywhere from days to weeks or longer, depending on the tasks the job requires. Often, new employees start by shadowing other employees and then move onto completing these tasks with supervision.

The importance of on the job training

There are all types of learners: some are visual, some are hands-on, and some do better by reading instructions. However, on-the-job training has incredible importance in today’s workforce.

On-the-job training allows employees to gain experience working in situations very similar to those they’ll encounter on a daily basis. Employees will use the same tools and equipment they need for their job while being guided by an experienced trainer.

This allows employees to learn and practice their job while still in training.

Other training methods, like online training or seminars, only give employees basic information rather than actual experience.

“Experience is the teacher of all things.”
– Julius Caesar

Benefits of on the job training

On-the-job training benefits employees and employers, and this next section will highlight some of the key benefits of on-the-job training.

1. Faster training with real experience

People quickly learn what they need to do and perform their job on a good or acceptable level.

Traditional training can be a lengthy process, and employees may not retain much information. This means employees may need correction or retraining later on.

With on-the-job training, employees learn precisely what their job entails and ask any questions that arise while shadowing coworkers.

The banner for The Digital Learning Ecosystem workbook

2. Faster adaptation to a new job

It is essential in industries with high turnover rates, e.g., retail, restaurant business, customer service, manufacturing, etc.

This type of training can help with faster onboarding and getting an acceptable level of performance. It allows employees to learn processes in your organization faster and more efficiently.

3. In most cases, it is easy to set up

On-the-job training is one of the simpler training programs to set up. Because you already have employees that know the job, you have a knowledge base to draw from.

You don’t need to set up complicated presentations. You simply need to pick a high-performing employee to train new staff.

4. Trainee can perform simple job tasks from the beginning

Trainees start learning the easier parts of their job first. As such, they can take on small responsibilities before they even complete training.

For instance, answering phones or directing customers to the correct store departments. If you are shorthanded and get busy, your trainee can assist, and this can ease the block in the workflow.

5. Retain good employees

Employee retention is crucial in any industry. However, employees aren’t as effective if they’re unsure of what exactly their job entails.

Not only that, confusion about the work expected from them can create a stressful environment, leading to high turnover rates.

On-the-job training shows employees exactly what duties they’re expected to complete, and exactly how to complete them.

As part of their training process, they practice each task expected of them and get detailed information about what processes their job involves.

This eliminates confusion, stress, and allows employees to perform their job to the best of their abilities.

6. Attract the right people

On-the-job training allows companies to find the right people for the job because they show capability during the training process. Also, by offering on-the-job training, companies become more attractive to potential employees.

These prospective employees know their time is well spent, and employers can assess skills during training.

7. Team building

With on-the-job training, new employees meet their new coworkers right away and start becoming part of the team.

This creates familiarity and opens up opportunities for new employees to ask questions, even if their training is complete.

Additionally, trainees become more familiar with various workplace departments and can expand their skill set over time.

8. Elementary knowledge management

More experienced employees transfer their knowledge and experience to the new employees, so this knowledge wouldn’t be lost if they leave the company. Of course, it doesn’t cover deep or specific knowledge, but at least it is something.

Many employers refer to this as “knowledge management”. Essentially, by having more experienced employees transfer their job knowledge, you retain those skills and knowledge within the company.

9. Financial benefits

On-the-job training happens as part of the regular workday and requires less time. Traditional training requires set training sessions and sometimes seminars.

So the employer saves money on training, and at the same time, the employee performs some of the work duties and brings additional profit to the company.

The banner for The Digital Learning Ecosystem workbook

On the job training plan with best practices

These tips and best practices will help you bring on-the-job training into your workplace.

1. Identify potential trainers

You wouldn’t have a new employee perform any real job alone. So you need to find trainers who are willing to share their knowledge.

Being selected to train other employees should be an incentive for good employee performance.

Not only that, but it also shows you which experienced employees can be promoted over time.

Not all trainers must be managers. However, the employees you do select as on-the-job trainers should show exceptional performance and a high level of capability and knowledge within their job.

Some employers choose to hire third-party trainers, which can be helpful if you don’t have the resources to train from within your workforce.

2. Structure training process

Any good training program starts with a structured plan. Create a list of the tasks the job requires on a regular basis, and detail the policies and procedures employees should know.

Because this varies with each job, you need to create a plan and list for each job.

3. Automate the learning process

If you have a learning environment with training materials that can cover some aspects of the job, then provide access to it. It can save trainers time and help trainees retain needed information.

Also, they can use it after the training to refresh knowledge, or practice something.

Not only that, your employees will know where to turn first, before seeking other assistance and taking time from another employee’s tasks.

4. Allow trainees to practice their skills

After learning from their instructor, new employees should be allowed to practice their skills, under the supervision of their trainer.

During this time, trainers should evaluate their performance. If there are any issues, the trainer can address and correct them.

Once on-the-job training is complete, conduct an assessment to ensure the employee has gained the skills needed for their job.

5. Check-in during and after training

Depending on the length of the training, it may be necessary to assess progress during the process.

For example, evaluating the trainee’s skills after learning a particular aspect of the job.

Remember, part of the on-the-job training is ensuring that new employees have the knowledge and skills to complete their job independently.

6. Get feedback and improve

After employees complete on-the-job training, get feedback from both trainer and trainee. This provides you several insights into how your on-the-job training program is working.

First, you can see how effective on-the-job training is for your company. Next, you can assess areas that may need improvement or skills that may need more time for training.

You can also get insight into how both the trainer and trainee performed. This allows you to determine whether the trainer is effective, or if another employee is better suited to the task.

Webinar: How to turn market challenges into business opportunities

Call for L&D decision-makers, HR professionals, and business leaders struggling with change, alignment, or resource management

  • Learn to adapt to regulation changes, global events, and tech advancement disruptions.
  • Discover how to make every learning opportunity count towards the success of your business.
  • Learn how to achieve impact with fewer resources.


Ivan Andreev

Demand Generation & Capture Strategist

Ivan is a dedicated and versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in online marketing and a proven track record of turning challenges into opportunities. Ivan works diligently to improve internal processes and explore new possibilities for the company.