Which is more effective – on-the-job training or off-the-job training? Both can produce the positive results you, as owner/manager, are hoping to achieve, but only if you fully understand how each type works. Start with the word that forms the foundation of these phrases, “training,” and before you ask which method is best for you, make sure you understand the ultimate goal of training itself.
Training is, first and foremost, teaching and learning. The goal is to develop skills and obtain knowledge related to specific uses. Consider the important ideas behind training: capability, productivity, and performance, all of which must be maintained and upgraded, refined and updated so employees and the company itself remains viable in a competitive market.
On or Off
You might refer to this training method as “hands on,” because the production workers learn at their workplace. This often takes place in a setting in which the employee is expected to produce a usable, finished item or to complete a service process to the satisfaction of the client or customer.
Conducting the training process in the actual workplace has significant benefits, but also presents specific challenges tied to location. It’s essential to consider on-the-job training more “practical” than off-the-job training, which is “theoretical.” Supervisors, managers, even company owners may have active participation in training at the workplace. This participation may not be part of the equation when the learning process takes place away from the job site or office.
One of the crucial differences between the two methods involves the difference in learning methods. At the workplace, the individual learns by performing or producing. During off-the-job training, the individual learns by acquiring knowledge. In the second situation, hope is a key factor. Owners and managers “hope” the trainees will bring that knowledge back to the work place and use it in a practical manner.
Supervisors and managers must take work disruption into account when on-the-job training is the chosen method. An extreme example might be training a new employee when your company offers SEO or internet marketing services to various clients or multinational companies like Craig Campbell who offers internet marketing and SEO services all around the globe. Chances are the disruption of the client’s business operation will be held to a minimum if only the most experienced workers are involved, preferably after hours.
Taking this line of thinking further, the new employee could be trained to paint in a neutral location, one in which the client is not present. Of course, this is an extreme example, but it should be considered when you’re a manufacturing firm as well, to cite another example. It may be less expensive to train a new production worker on-site, but disruption must still be considered.
Will the less-than-perfect results cause delays in delivery of quality products? If so, is it possible to train a production worker away from the jobsite? Would off-the-job training be the best option for companies in a non-manufacturing field?
This is certainly a brief overview of the two training methods, but one that does bring up several concepts worth considering. When deciding which path to follow, it’s crucial to consider the industry or field you’re operating in, and to visualize both the training process and the possible outcomes.