What is on-the-job training (OJT)?

On-the-job training (OJT) is the process of providing practical instruction to employees as they engage in experiential learning in their jobs. In OJT, people may take time to observe more experienced co-workers, perform duties under the guidance of a designated individual, or engage in a company learning and development program. In a sense, every job demands some form of on-the-job training. Typically, however, OJT is prevalent in jobs that require hands-on work, the usage of power tools and machinery, or among people learning to use a new system or tech tool.

Why should HR leaders care about on-the-job training?

OJT offers a cost-effective way to support productivity and nurture self-confidence. By providing the tools to help people succeed, employees are more likely to feel engaged and want to stay at their jobs. Moreover, finding an appropriate candidate, especially in a high-turnover climate, can be challenging. By facilitating on-the-job training in the form of upskilling, HR professionals can help boost performance. In turn, OJT can contribute to building a larger talent pool so HR leaders can fill vacant positions with suitable candidates.

What can HR leaders do to support successful on-the-job training?

HR can also take several steps to establish an applicable and effective OJT program: 

  • Identify the strategy. Some companies may establish a systematic, step-by-step process of training new hires that involves milestones and evaluations. Other companies may prefer a less structured approach that relies primarily on shadowing and mentorship. The OJT strategy also depends on the type of job, its complexity, and the people’s competency level. Organizations should also consider whether to run OJT independently or integrate it into an existing L&D program to encourage constant micro-learning.
  • Analyze the skills gap. Evaluate the skills people may be lacking. This analysis can help HR leaders determine who needs more training to elevate their performance. Furthermore, analyzing the skills gap can help HR leaders improve succession planning for vacant positions. 
  • Pinpoint high-potential employees. Take note of people with high potential and essential characteristics such as emotional intelligence, resilience, or good work ethic. HR leaders can also use 360-degree reviews, performance reviews, or build a high-potential employee program to facilitate on-the-job training for budding talent.  
  • Identify employee experts. Instead of outsourcing training and turning to external experts, identify team members with expertise. They can offer a wellspring of knowledge, as they know the ins and outs of the company. Allowing people to share their knowledge can further fuel their engagement while increasing collaboration and strengthening workplace relationships.

Why should on-the-job training be part of modern HR strategy?

Incorporating OJT into the modern HR strategy enables people to overcome learning curves and perform quality work. In turn, helping people succeed in their jobs contributes to their engagement and the overall proper functioning of the organization.