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Gearing Up Employees for Corporate Competitiveness Through Structured On-the-Job Training

by Kevin Chan


Skills among other factors like innovation and services have been identified as an important factor, in helping companies to create value in the new economy. Although, companies are aware of the benefits of training, however, surveys revealed that generally, many companies were unable to sent their employees to attend courses owing to:

  • Shortage of manpower and busy work schedule
  • Employees are reluctant to attend training during non-working hours
  • Work standards taught in courses are not exactly relevant to the companies’ practices
  • No training providers for specific skills required

The obvious solution is On-the-Job Training (OJT) and many companies do have some form of OJT. Some companies have unpleasant experiences as their unstructured OJT programs are difficult to monitor and not effective in developing the required skills among employees.

Well, the problem is not the technique itself, but the process of execution of the OJT. A well-structured OJT will resolve implementation issues as specific job knowledge and skills are identified and documented to guide trainers during training. Employees will be motivated to learn as the training is directly related to their jobs in their actual work environment. At the same time, the trainer can observe, correct and reinforce skills to point out any errors before they become poor work habits.

The Structured OJT technique was introduced in Singapore sometime in 1990 and had since gained popularity among companies. In a factory that manufactures electronic products, it had been reported that the implementation of Structured OJT resulted in a 11% increase in production output and a 28% decrease in rejects. In another company that runs a chain of fast-food restaurants, Structured OJT had led to improvements in job performance of its employees, as shown by a 25% decline in customer complaints and a 50% reduction in staff turnover. Structured OJT can also help in reducing training costs by as much as 75% as employees need not be released from their jobs during training.

There are 3 stages to the implementation of Structured OJT.


Stage 1 : Planning
This stage involves the identification of jobs for OJT, and thereafter, a task analysis outlined in figure 1, is conducted to develop the OJT blueprint. The OJT blueprint is then reviewed, tested and finalized.

Stage 2 : Implementation
The training needs of each trainee are identified and the required training is scheduled. The trainer who is usually the immediate supervisor, will then prepare for coaching based on the schedule and OJT blueprint. Coaching the trainee is done in 4 structured steps outlined in Figure 2. The training contents can be tailored to suit the existing skills level of each employee as the coaching process is done on a one-to-one basis.

Stage 3 : Evaluation
This stage will involve evaluation of the performance of the trainee after training and additional training hours may be added if the skills of the trainee in a particular task are found to be unsatisfactory. This step will also help to review the effectiveness of the OJT blueprint for continuous improvement.

When effectively developed, Structured OJT will become a useful training technique to for employee skills development and to supplement off-the-job training programs.

Breaking down the components of a job during task analysis
Figure 1: Breaking down the components of a job during task analysis
Source : Teian Consulting International, Singapore

 

The 4-step structured coaching process
Figure 2: The 4-step structured coaching process
Source : Teian Consulting International, Singapore

This article have been written by our Principal Consultant, Mr. Kelvin Chan for the Asian Productivity Organization for their APO News published in January 2010 under the category of Productivity Methodologies, Tools and Techniques. The PDF version of the Newsletter is available for downloading from the Asian Productivity Organization website at this link.

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