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When you plan your employees' training schedule, you are faced with a variety of options – on-site or off-site, training professionals or internal resources, formal classroom instruction or on-the-job training. While some training – sexual harassment awareness, for example – needs formal structure to satisfy legal requirements, job improvement training can be handled at your discretion. Whether you are training recent hires or long-term employees, on-the-job training offers distinct advantages.
The Need for Training
Ongoing training is a requirement in the workplace today. Both new hires and employees being transferred to new positions benefit from on-the-job training, and virtually everyone needs training to keep abreast of market and technological developments. There are benefits to using employees and supervisors to handle training requirements. Outside trainers may be knowledgeable and preferred in some instances, but they will not be familiar with your company's practices and culture. Not all employees are skilled instructors, however. When you tap your employees to handle on-the-job training, be sure they have the skills to do the job. Proficiency at what they do does not necessarily mean they can share that knowledge with their trainees.
On-the-job training can be tailored to the specific needs of the individual trainee – you select the method that is right for the person. A trainee can be given the opportunity to shadow a senior employee and benefit from observing that employee's practices. Mentoring pairs a junior employee with a more seasoned one who guides his charge through the learning process. The mentor has a more enduring relationship and can also help his mentee with many various aspects of learning company practices. A coach, like his athletic counterpart, observes the trainee's performance and gives him feedback, directing him in the desired practices.
On-the-job training is the most cost-effective way to bring an employee's performance up to the standard you wish. You do not have to pay extra for a trainer – he is already on the payroll. The trainee is productive while he is being trained. Using employees and supervisors to provide training affords you the opportunity to provide a higher quality of training, since you can select the best-qualified trainers – those with the knowledge and training skills. On-the-job training is an effective way to bring new hires up to speed quickly, which helps your bottom line.
For a new employee or one transitioning within the organization, on-the-job training offers benefits beyond just learning procedures. Off-site training can isolate the employee from the team and inhibit her ability to apply what she learns in the work environment. Working as she learns will keep her productive as she assimilates into her new position. Because she is working and training with her peers, it will be easier for her to be accepted as a member of the team.
Thomas Metcalf has worked as an economist, stockbroker and technology salesman. A writer since 1997, he has written a monthly column for "Life Association News," authored several books and contributed to national publications such as the History Channel's "HISTORY Magazine." Metcalf holds a master's degree in economics from Tufts University.
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