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What Are the Disadvantages of Relying on Informal On-The-Job Training for New Employees?

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Companies often provide some form of on-the-job training for new employees. This is necessary to get new hires up to speed on their job duties and working relationships. Formal training includes clear structure, time frame and objectives. Informal training has a looser set of guidelines, is more open to interpretation and has some disadvantages.

Missed Elements

One major issue with less formal training is a greater potential for oversight or errors. It's virtually impossible for a manager to remember every single training step and process required with a new employee in a given position. This may lead to an employee being put into a situation with a client or customer that she's completely unprepared for. This can have negative consequences on business relationships and employee morale.


Informal training tends to be less efficient as well. Managers may spend time trying to recall training requirements and techniques. Additionally, without clearly defined steps, the manager may forget something in explaining a process and have to start over. Employees will likely have more questions with informal training, because they recognize gaps in the training and want to feel comfortable in their ability to do their jobs effectively.

No Goals or Evaluation

Informal training inherently means no specific and measurable goals have been outlined. This limits the effectiveness of the training, since the manager doesn't have a concrete understanding of intended outcomes, other than generally helping an employee learn the job. Subsequently, without stated objectives, measuring the results of training is difficult. If your goal is to develop an employee to a point where she can complete a certain number of sales in a month, for instance, you could measure the results. Without goals, you'll have difficulty measuring progress or success.

Employee Perception

Employees may perceive an informal training process as less intentional, inspiring and dedicated. This may lead to an interpretation that the employee's job has limited value for the organization. Even if unintended, this message can negatively impact the employee's motivation to learn and to apply what she's learned in job performance. Additionally, consistently informal training can contribute to a negative work culture and low overall employee morale.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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