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On-the-Job Training: Why and How to Support Modern Learners On The Job

Have you heard of the 70-20-10 model for Learning and Development? It’s a description of how people learn, based on a Center for Creative Leadership study, and it shows the impact of three types of experiences on corporate development. The 70% is the primary route for development: on-the-job. 

In the age of information - aka. where employees can access the information they need, at any time they want,  it becomes critical for every L&D professional to be aware of this model and embrace it to maximize the effectiveness of their training programs. Training your workforce while they’re actively performing their jobs must be part of your learning and development overall strategy. 


What is On-The-Job-Training (OJT)? 

"On-the-job training uses existing workplace tools, documents, equipment, knowledge, and skills necessary for an employee to learn to effectively perform his or her job". Source:


The main goal of OJT is to combine learning and everyday work using available resources in the workplace to train employees to do their job and improve their skills—on the job. The employee performs his/her job tasks with the supervision of a manager, employer, work site sponsor or mentor.

Why You Need On-the-Job Training?

Here are some reasons that OJT is so important:

  1. Happy and motivated employees. Those given opportunities for OJT are more committed to your business. According to a study, 30% of those that receive OJT are excited about their work, compared to 14% of those that receive no training. Also, according to LinkedIn's most recent research, “Among the learners who responded, 58% want to learn at their own pace and 49% want to learn in the flow of work".
  2. You will build a pool of employees that you can promote. Not only are you creating a highly-skilled workforce in your business, but you’re creating a mindset that employees must always be learning and growing. This pays off when you need to promote managers! You will already have skilled, loyal employees who know the ins and outs of your business.
  3. You will attract new employees during the hiring process. If your business is in an industry where it’s difficult to attract and retain good employees, OJT can help. It will count as a perk among employees who want to better themselves, while also indicating that you’re willing to build your company from the inside through promotion. 87% of millennials report on-the-job training methods are important to them when searching for a job
  4. You build flexibility into your workforce. When you have well-trained employees, the attitude of “that’s not my job” will disappear. While you don’t want to train every employee to do absolutely everything, training can extend employee abilities beyond the bare minimum.

Download this report to learn more: Research Report: Deconstructing 70‑20‑10

What are the on-the-job training advantages that make it vital today? Learn more here.


How to Maximize OJT Opportunities in Your Company

Unfortunately, most organizations aren’t maximizing OJT opportunities in a way that prepares leaders, develops quality employees, and advances business goals. For example, many managers assume that OJT means doing a new task without support or detailed guidance. OJT might take place in the workplace, but it still needs to involve actual training!

Also, even the greatest OJT program will fall flat if you don’t give employees the opportunity to put what they’ve learned into practice ASAP. Not only does it help reinforce what they’ve learned, but it prevents them from forgetting.

Here are some tips:

  • Relevant training. Never waste an employee’s time. Not only is it lost money and time, but it will create resentment among your employees. Train them to be flexible, but leave out any training that’s unnecessary. Stop Blah, Blah eLearning! 5 Rules for Creating Relevant and Fluff-free Courses
  • Realistic and actionable training bites. This is another issue connected to over-training-- don’t waste time and money. The more realistic, bite-sized and application-focused your eLearning courses are the better. Employees want actionable tips, recommendations, pinpoint information, answers to questions they face and tools that help them at their jobs.
  • Use short, task-based learning objects to let learners access what they need quickly. Part of the reason that OJT works is because employees have two options when they get stuck: they can tinker until they figure it out on their own or they can ask someone more knowledgeable. Usually, the other person will give them a quick run-down of how to do their task, and that will be enough to teach them what they need to know. Simulate this aspect of OJT by creating very short task-specific modules and giving them an easily-searchable name like “How to Merge Accounts.”
  • Embed microlearning videos into your eLearning courses to deliver targeted content depending on the different skills learners need to hone.
  • Add a mobile component. Create opportunities for learners to access the training whenever, wherever they are. This can help leaders integrate training into everyday activities - allowing workers to access content at the point of need, leading to increased productivity and a great return on investment.
  • Blend long-form eLearning courses with on-the-job training resources (cheat sheets, job-aids, videos) that help apply the learning at the job.  
  • Focus your eLearning courses on performance. Your eLearning courses should focus on what you want your learners to DO at the end of the course. Take this test: Is your eLearning focused on knowledge or performance?

Recommended resource: See this video for further explanation of the concepts reviewed in this article: 




Read more: A New Paradigm For Corporate Training: Learning In The Flow of Work

How do you support OJT? Let us know in the comments below!

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