Organizational Wellness

On-the-Job Training (OJT) for Employees Old and New

Feb 10, 2023
Last Updated Jun 1, 2023

Let’s say you’ve been doing your job for a few years now, and you feel pretty good about the work you’ve been doing. Sure, you’re not the star employee or anything, and that’s fine. But, while you’re thinking about it, you would like to improve your performance and progress in your career. And now that you’re reallythinking about it, you haven’t grown or developed in awhile now. It feels like maybe you’ve reached your max at your current company. Perhaps it’s time to leave… 

You wouldn’t be alone in thinking like this. About 29%of employees say a lack of opportunities for growth and development is a good reason to leave a position. 

And tenured employees aren’t the only ones that like support. Your new hires do too, of course! Imagine you just started at a brand new position, and you have no idea how to do your job. What can you do about that situation? 

Believe it or not, both of these hypothetical situations can be resolved with the same answer: on-the-job training (OJT). Yes, really! On-the-job training is for both established employees and brand new ones. 

Let’s dive into more details about on-the-job training, why it matters, the types you can deploy, and some best practices. 

What Is On-the-Job Training (OJT)?

So what even is on-the-job training anyway? It’s learning the skills and competencies to do a job while you’re actively doing the job. Often, you get OJT by observing a manager or supervisor, watching for skills and competencies. You might also be observed and receive feedback so you can see how you’re performing. It can also include side-by-side mentoring or some form of coaching as well.  

This all might sound very familiar for starting at a new job. So how does it work for employees already on the job? It’s essentially the same process, except the employees involved are working to deepen their skills instead of learning how the job works. Coaching and mentoring can be a natural fit with this style of OJT. 

Why Is On-the-Job Training Important? 

That sounds nice, but why does it matter? Here are some key reasons why OJT is so important: 

  • It shows new employees the ropes.New employees won’t know exactly how to perform a job. OJT gives you a chance to show new employees all the requirements and expectations of a role. Then you won’t have later miscommunications or trouble because an employee didn’t know what was expected of them. 
  • It allows employees to get comfortable and stay comfortable with their role.Starting somewhere new can be scary. But OJT helps them get comfortable with what they’re doing because they’re getting great training. And for old employees, OJT helps them stay comfortable as it helps them up to date with their industry and the company.  
  • It makes space for questions.Asking questions is so beneficialat work. OJT creates a space where there’s an active mentor, coach, or supervisor right there to answer them. 

Benefits of On-the-Job Training

So that’s why OJT can be so great. But what’s the really good stuff you get out of it? 

  • Faster training.Companies might spend 46 hourstraining their employees. That’s quite the commitment, so luckily OJT can make training faster
  • Faster adaptation to new roles.Believe it or not, it can actually take 1–2 yearsfor an employee to be fully trained. But learning on-the-job gives employees hands-on-experience, which can help them learn faster
  • Faster adaptation as a company.The future of your workplaceis always something to keep in mind. As your employees are improving with their OJT, you’re also helping your organization adapt and prepare for future business developments. 
  • Increased job satisfaction.If employees have high job satisfaction, they’re more likelyto stick around and perform well. The good news is that OJT can increasejob satisfaction. It makes sense, really: People like to feel like they know what they’re doing, and OJT can help them increase their mastery. 
  • Typically easy to set up.OJT is one of the easier programsto set up. After all, you already have all the expertise ready to go. The trick is setting up mentoring, coaching, and observations. 
  • Higher employee retention.OJT can lower turnoverand boost retention. Employee retentionis a big deal. US businesses are losing $1 trillion dollarson employee turnover, and it costs 33%of an employee’s salary to replace them. Companies that begin at the start of an employee’s tenure with a great onboarding process and training program have boosted retention by 82%.  
  • Attract the right people for the job.Guess what? Having OJT actually makes you a more desirableemployer. It helps potential candidates know that you care about providing them with experience and thorough training. 
  • Team building.Workplace relationships improveproductivity, collaboration, morale, creativity, and even health. And OJT gets those relationships started right off the bat. New employees meet team members early on and start forming relationships. Established employees might get to meet others they haven’t yet (or they can strengthen relationships by getting to know each other better). 
  • Knowledge management.You likely have seasoned employees at your company that just seem to know everything. What happens when they leave or retire? Where does that knowledge go? If you have OJT set up, the knowledge goes right to employees who are still at your company and just getting started. 
  • Financial benefits.With OJT, employees are performing work that brings your company money while they’re training. That’s a financial benefitright there. Your employees benefit too because they’re actually paid to train (again, this is a real bonus for being an attractive employer). 
  • A focus on employee wellbeing.Eighty-three percentof employees in a recent survey said that they consider their wellbeing as important as their salary. So focusing on wellbeing is important to employees. OJT is all about helping employees grow by focusing on them and their development, which supports their wellbeing. 

Types of On-the-Job Training

Not all OJT is the same. There are a few different types of training companies will use. Here are a few and a brief description of what they could look like: 

  • Orientation. Orientation-style training helps employees adaptto their jobs better and become more productive. OJT orientation would include a basic introduction to the job, shadowing, and observations. 
  • Internship.An internship is a temporary position that’s all about learning on the job. They can be both paid or unpaid, and the whole goal is growth. Plus 70%of interns are hired at the company they intern at, so you’re pretty likely to get a full-time already-trained employee out of it. 
  • Apprenticeship. Akin to internships, apprenticeships are about gaining skills. An apprentice will already know what they want to do, so their goal will be to gain more skills from a seasoned worker. Apprenticeships work well in industries that require highly skilled workers and a lot of practical training. 
  • Job rotation.This one might surprise you, but you can use a job rotation and switch employees around to positions they don’t normally work in. Why? Variety and experience. But it also helps employees see what other people are doing, which can improvetheir big picture view of their own work. 
  • Mentoring programs. Mentoring is a great way to supportemployees at work and while supporting their mental health and connection. Plus (as we mentioned earlier) they’re great for building relationships. 

On-the-Job Training Best Practices

Sold on starting on-the-job training? We would be too. But how do you get started with it? Here are a few of our best practices to help you get started: 

  • Identify potential employees to become trainers. Always keep an eye out for those exceptional staffers with a lot of knowledge or experience.
  • Structure the training process as carefully as you can, ensuring it includes new hire training and training later down the line.
  • Automate the learning process when possible.
  • Allow trainees to practice their skills. Consider having a mentor to observe them in action and provide feedback..
  • Check in before and after training to see how employees are feeling and that they understand the importance of their OJT.
  • Get feedback to continuously improve training — after all, nothing’s perfect the first time.

The Bottom Line

Overall, OJT is a great way to provide employees with structured development so they can grow. There are so many benefits and ways OJT can be built (it’s definitely not just for new-hires), so you customize this tool to fit the needs of your organization and its loyal staffers. Ready to learn more about improving your workplace and focusing on employee wellbeing? Talk to a wellbeing specialisttoday. 



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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