5 Steps To Building An On The Job Training Program

Jan 14, 2020 11:14:03 AM / by Jacey Lamb

What is an on the job training program and why do you need it? Let’s start with the universal fact that high employee turnover negatively impacts a business. How do you reduce employee turnover? One way is to have an on the job training program set up. Investing the time and money to create an on the job training program means you’re investing in your employees. You know, the people who make your business happen! It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, creating and implementing an on the job training program will benefit you. 

What is On The Job Training?

On the job training (OTJ) is a hands-on method of teaching skills, knowledge, and competencies needed for new employees to perform their jobs. 

The point is for the employees to slowly integrate into their new position while training at the same time. OJT uses any and all workplace softwares, tools, machines, equipment, and knowledge to teach an employee how to effectively do their job.

Typically, managers or more experienced coworkers will provide the training. 


Benefits of On The Job Training

1. It’s customized to your business

Creating an OJT program for your specific business means training will be completed more efficiently and your business needs will be met more quickly. 

2. It creates happy and loyal employees

New employees will feel more prepared and confident when their training is complete. They’ll be more committed to growing their careers at your business and will be more excited about their work. 

3. It builds a team of “promotable” employees

Using an on the job training program creates highly skilled employees and ensures your team is constantly learning and helping each other improve. 

When it’s time to promote employees to managers in the future, you’ll have a loyal and skilled team to choose from who already know your business!

4. It attracts new hires

It can be difficult to attract and retain valuable employees - but on the job training can help. OJT is an attractive benefit for employees who are interested in working for your business. It highlights the fact that you value your employees and want them to feel capable and confident every shift!

5. It fosters a team oriented work environment 

No more “that’s not part of my job” attitudes! When you have a well trained team from on the job training, everyone helps each other learn and improve.


5 Steps for Building an On The Job Training Program 

1. Evaluate Employees and Skills Needed

Determine and write down your long-term goals you’d like this OJT program to accomplish 

Better productivity? Loyal employees? Community reputation? Continued business growth and expansion? Keep these in mind as you begin building your program. 

Know what each job requires

What are the specific needs of specific employees and jobs? 

Make a list of any qualifications, knowledge, and skills each job requires. The goal is to create a vision of what an ideal employee in that specific job is able to do. 

Next, list the skills most employees have when they’re first hired. 

Finally, look back at times you’ve repeated yourself or asked employees to redo a task. Pinpoint the miscommunication that slowed things down. 

Do this for every position in your business. Once you have a better picture that compares what employees need and what they generally have, the gap is what your OJT will fill in. 

Figure out the necessary tools and systems

Look at the list you made from above and analyze the gaps in employee performance. Was it due to a lack of skills, education, or was it a lack of tools and systems? 

Before you can create a training program, you’ll need to ensure all the tools and systems needed to perform each job well are put in place. 

Common areas of breakdown:

  • Communication software. Is your communication process too complex or too vague? Communication breakdown is usually fixed by simplifying your system and enforcing adherence to it.

  • Technology. Make sure you have updated technology before investing in training for outdated tech. 

  • Job boundaries. Are employee work boundaries (or the lack thereof) made clear? 

Be sure employees aren’t hassling with broken tools and systems. Get things streamlined and up to date so training feels like forward motion instead of a waste of time. 


2. Create the Training Program

Which formats and materials fit best with your objectives and workplace? Classroom style training, mentorship, and more structured programs are common options. 

Structured on the job training programs are basic, task-oriented, and useful for employees that perform the same tasks each shift. 

For structured programs, the trainer (usually a coworker in that same position) works with the new employee through the task checklist. 

If the job duties could be different shift to shift, you’ll need a trainer who is also a skilled teacher. It’s important to determine how an employee learns in order to train effectively. 

Here’s some tips for being a great trainer:

  • Have the employee practice doing the actual tasks that come up

  • Utilize role playing, group activities, team building activities, and talk about personal work experiences that relate to the job

  • Have mini quizzes and activities to test the employee’s knowledge

  • Let the employee shadow and observe coworkers shift to shift

The more hands on you can make the training program, the more effective it will be!


3. Get Specific and Develop the Program Materials

Once you know how your training will look, it’s time to outline your training objectives. Get ideas from your company handbook, employee knowledge base, online resources, and anywhere else relevant to your business. 

Decide how often the training will occur

On the job training is not a one and done type of event. It’s periodic, takes time, and the employee is constantly learning. Technically, the training never ends!

Employees learn a lot of key things through periodic training such as:

  • Company policies

  • How to work the factory line

  • How to respond to customers

  • Using the new inventory system 

  • How to fill out business expense and financial reports for reimbursement 

  • Updates on changes to communication softwares

  • How new laws affect their jobs

  • Teamwork training

As your business changes, employees need to stay updated on their training.

Use an outline

Finally, develop your on the job training program like an outline. Each main section being the objective you want the employee to achieve before moving to the next. 

Decide how to measure employee success. Do they need to demonstrate a skill? Pass a test? Role play scenarios with pretend customers? Each objective should have a defined success that must be met before the employee continues down the program.


4. Choose the Trainers

Find the best people to conduct the training, whether it be a manager, coworker, mentor, or a designated training coordinator. 

Many companies find success in having mentors/trainees setup. So more experienced employees are paired with and in charge of training new hires within the same position. 


5. Gather Employee Feedback

The best way to determine how successful your on the job training program is to ask! 

Use a survey

Use anonymous surveys during, immediately after, and several months after the training. 

Look for improvement in work performance

Improved employee performance will positively impact profit and growth. How do you measure and compare employee performance? Analyze your productivity markers from before training to after (ex. higher commissions from sales, more items sold, etc.).

Monitor employee retention

Are your trained employees staying on longer than what you’d experience before training? 

Some things, like customer service and attitudes, can be difficult to measure. Observation and conversations with other managers will help you become more aware of what’s happening across departments. 

Overall, trust your gut! If you notice an improvement in workplace culture that in turn helps with hitting company performance goals, that’s what you’re looking for. 

On the job training helps you build your business with your employees as the foundation. After all, they run the show. Hopefully this guide helps you get started making your own on the job training program.

Tags: restaurant training, shift management tools, Employee Engagement, team communication

Jacey Lamb

Written by Jacey Lamb

Jacey is the Inbound Marketing Specialist for ShiftNote and is passionate about helping businesses grow. She loves all things digital marketing - especially social media. She makes sure to continue learning every day to build on her knowledge. Outside of her career, she enjoys going to the gym, eating delicious food, and spending time with friends and family (and pets, of course).

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