•   Article   •   4 mins

How to Give Your People On-the-Job Training They Crave

We’ve heard it over and over: When you treat your people like more than a number, they give back to your organization. If you develop your workforce by giving people opportunities to learn and grow on their own, they’ll become more productive, innovative and engaged. And when your company culture emphasizes learning, you can help your business attract and retain higher quality talent. 

Take that knowledge and go one step further: Develop and improve your team by giving people time to develop skills through on-the-job training programs.

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Professional development is in demand.

Current research overwhelmingly shows the importance of professional development to today’s workers. An October 2021 study of technology industry professionals found 91% of respondents wanted more training opportunities from their employers. At the same time, 75% said their employers prioritized attracting new talent over investing in current talent.

Younger generations are increasingly likely to value skill development. For example, a 2022 report by Deloitte showed 29% of millennials and Gen Zers chose employers based on opportunities for learning and development. This ranked second only to work-life balance for reasons employees stuck with their employers.

The year 2022 has been dubbed the “Great Reshuffle,” (also known as the Great Resignation and the Great Quit) as quit rates recently reached record numbers. Instead of staying in the same types of roles and industries, many workers are re-evaluating what they want from work. What they want is growth. 

On-the-job training is one of the most effective ways to spur that growth. As professional development becomes a bigger priority, you can provide your workers with successful on-the-job training programs to successfully grow within your organization.

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

OTJ training provides employees with the opportunity to learn new skills during the workday, while they’re getting paid. It can take many forms, including:

  • One-on-one instruction, in which a lead or supervisor guides an employee through new skills in a supportive and risk-free environment.
  • Virtual training, in the form of webinars and online instruction
  • Group classes, where employees watch, listen and collaborate in group training and learning.
  • Coaching or mentoring, in which a coach or mentor works with an employee to identify goals, answers questions, provides advice and offers support to overcome career roadblocks.
  • Interdepartmental collaborative projects, in which an employee works with people from different departments or teams on the same project to learn new skills.

Formal on-the-job training programs can complement skill development achieved through experiential learning. Experiential, OTJ learning allows employees to try new skills in their everyday work tasks or via a stretch assignment or mentorship program with an expert.

It’s clear employees prefer training programs that align with their passions and talents and propel their professional development. The 2022 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report found employees who feel their skills aren’t being used in their current job are 10 times more likely to be looking for a new job than those who feel the opposite.

How can you integrate on-the-job training?

It’s not enough to offer the same training to all employees who have the same roles. To be effective, OTJ training must have a clear strategy behind it. A few best practices can help you successfully integrate on-the-job training and skill development:

1. Customize career development plans. 

Customized career development plans map to where employees are and where they want to be in, say, one, five or 10 years. Advantages of such plans include:

  • Each employee understands what skills they need to develop in order to achieve results at each career milestone.
  • Employees see when you’re invested in their growth, which can keep them engaged at your company.
  • Clear benchmarks help employees and managers stay accountable for skill development.

You can promote the use of customized career development plans during recruitment and hiring. And because each plan is personally tailored to each employee, people can lean into job responsibilities and roles that align with their passions and strengths.

2. Involve employees in the training style.

People are more receptive to training when they have a role in selecting the learning style. Some employees are hands-on learners. Others prefer learning by hearing. Others enjoy group sessions that facilitate discussion and collaboration.

Ask employees for suggestions about learning modules they’re interested in or give them an option as to how they would like to learn while OTJ. They might be aware of educational materials that align with the skills they need to learn. Selecting them can make the training more effective.

3. Promote learning and development opportunities to everyone.

Some employees may not be aware of their strengths or know about a certain job they’d be interested in unless you make them aware of it. You can spread more knowledge across your company by:

  • Creating a digital knowledge base of learning materials that all employees have access to.
  • Holding informative lunch-and-learns open to all.
  • Hosting guest speakers who talk about topics relevant to your business and industry.

4. Measure and track progress.

When you introduce a new OTJ training opportunity or strategy, decide how you’ll track and measure results. As with any business strategy, consider your goal, which key performance indicators to consider (and when and how to measure them) and the next steps you’ll take when you review them.

Employee surveys are one way to check in with your people and get feedback that leads to  ideas on how you can improve your program. And surveys demonstrate you’re interested in what your people are interested in, which can make them feel valued. When you implement employee ideas, you can tell your team your strategy was directly influenced by feedback. That can help increase engagement in future surveys as well as your training programs.

Offering On-the-Job Training to Attract and Retain Employees

Strong learning and development opportunities can help drive your company’s success. Job candidates want those opportunities, and at least some of your top performing employees might leave if you don’t offer them.

The good news is you can create a positive and influential culture of learning by asking your workers what they’re interested in learning and then integrating skill development into their career plans. And when you track your efforts, you can continually improve your training offerings.

Want to learn more? Schedule a personalized Degreed demo today.

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