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On the Job Training with an LMS

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How to Improve On-the-Job Training With an LMS

Training on the job is a necessity for most positions. It offers hands-on training from experienced workers and managers who help new employees gain the confidence and knowledge necessary for their jobs. Employees and managers rated it the most important type of skills training. They also rated soft skills like trustworthiness, leadership and friendliness as important — some soft skills you'll witness during in-person training.

To get the most of on-the-job training (OJT), align it with clearly defined goals, other training formats and visibility. Learning management systems (LMS) help here, adding value and visibility to on-the-job training programs. Take a look at how on-the-job training and learning management systems work hand-in-hand.

What Is On-the-Job Training?

OJT means new employees learn skills by watching other workers and performing tasks under supervision. It could include a job shadow or a manager watching the new employee conduct a task to ensure they've learned it correctly. Often, experienced employees or supervisors conduct OJT and ensure the employee knows how to work safely and effectively. Other employees like managers and HR staff can also offer training, ideal for topics like policies, expectations and leadership training.

OJT is often used in conjunction with other training strategies, such as videos, quizzes and documentation. It's an important component of comprehensive employee education planning, helping workers see their knowledge applied to where they'll be working.

Training often occurs in the typical workplace setting, but some employers opt for training-specific workstations or other locations entirely. For more specialized applications, such as software training or complex tools, you might turn to a consultant or vendor. These parties typically have more detailed knowledge of these settings and will help with highly technical products. They may also have special training programs they've developed for their platforms or tools.

Benefits of On-the-Job Training

So, what is OJT's role in the business overall? Both employees and employers benefit from on-the-job training advantages. OJT helps with everything from improving safety and performance to creating the right culture for your workplace.

1. Reduced Risk

Proper training reduces the risk of safety incidents and general business risks, like inaccurate data handling or poor sales.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says workplace safety incidents cost employers billions of dollars each year. Poorly maintained equipment can malfunction, and employees can overlook or not know how to handle safety violations. Even if your business doesn't seem like a risky industrial environment, something as simple as a trip hazard in an office can lead to significant problems for the business.

OJT shows employees safe behaviors in action and what they look like. Reading how to operate a machine may not translate to in-person work. The employee could misinterpret the positioning of a safety belt or overlook the importance of a certain step. When working through the motions in person, there's very little doubt about how things are done. Trainers add emphasis where necessary and offer feedback to guide the new workers in the right direction.

For many organizations, poor training results in risks to business operations. If you handle sensitive data or work in a highly regulated industry, poor training could have significant ramifications, like noncompliance, damage to your reputation and exposed proprietary information. 

Even if you don't have many regulatory concerns, employees without the right training could expose you to mistakes such as general errors and reduced profitability. Effective on-the-job training minimizes the risks that come from inadequate training.

2. Clear Expectations

Without sufficient OJT experience, many employees will be left wondering what management expects from them. This can add anxiety to the workday and create uncertainty about how to best reach goals. Depending on the type of training, interpretations for instructional materials vary. Written instruction might not translate perfectly to your company's work environment, and workers may interpret subjective terms like "nearby" or "in a timely manner" differently.

With direct instruction, employees see how to meet expectations with less room for uncertainty. They have a specific example to work from and model their understanding of the job after. Creating a strong foundation for job duties is essential for ensuring independent work in the future and offering the employee a smooth onboarding process everyone will be confident in.

3. Better Information Retention

While there are many different learning styles out there, people generally learn better by doing. Studies have shown hands-on learning supports higher test scores, engages more parts of the brain and creates stronger personal connections to the material. Hands-on learning incorporates many different senses — workers need to listen to instructions, analyze situations, process visual stimuli and use critical thinking skills.

Using these different senses creates stronger connections in the brain and supports better retention. It also helps add excitement to the learning process. After all, it's usually more interesting to do something yourself than read about it. 

Hands-on learning also helps add autonomy to the experience. When workers have done something before, they more easily take control of the situation, instead of stepping back and leaving someone else to handle it.

4. Specificity and Flexibility

Some training methods, like reading documents or watching videos, are somewhat static and may not be applicable to the position or business. While materials from third parties are useful for some topics, like general industry information or scientific processes, they can't cover some subjects that are unique to the business. Plus, they may be outdated.

An on-the-job trainer gives employees more precise information. A document might say, "Submit the report to the distribution manager," but an OJT trainer can say, "This goes to Kelly." In-person trainers also discuss relevant updates that static documents wouldn't reflect, such as a new regulation or a building renovation that temporarily affects work.

Your business has specific goals and guiding principles. OJT allows you to tailor employee education toward these demands.

5. Company Culture and Team Building

Time spent on training is one of the first impressions employees have of the company. On-the-job training adds a valuable personal touch to the experience. Newcomers learn about the culture of the organization and start building relationships by working with another employee. Instead of reading about company values, the new employees see them imbued into the work as a foundational part of the job. The trainer can exemplify company values and show the trainee what it looks like to bring those ideals to the workday.

Using an LMS to Improve OJT

While on-the-job training has many advantages, it can be tricky to keep track of it. Without an organized system, it's easy to miss topics that haven't been covered or overlap lessons inefficiently. An LMS like ISOtrain lets you wrap OJT into other methods of training, with more extensive features for planning and assessing progress. An LMS is essential for making the most of an OJT plan, especially when it comes to auditing. On-the-job training in highly regulated industries requires careful recording so you can stay prepared for audits.

Here are some LMS and on-the-job training tips for getting the most of these resources.

1. Create Learning Paths

Learning, training or curriculum paths allow you to create clear, visible routes for employees to follow. As certain classes are completed and the employee moves along the path, they're marked as finished in the LMS. Before trainers offer a lesson, they can check in on the employee's path and make sure they have the right "prerequisites" and are ready for the training. If someone needs to use a certain piece of equipment for a task, the learning path can specify that certification for the equipment occurs first.

Learning paths are also great for ease of assignment. If you have several new team members in different departments or some with existing skillsets, learning paths create "bundles" to allocate to different people.

Learning paths aren't just for new employees, either. They're a great tool to use with continuous learners looking to boost their skills. Employees can work on their learning path when they have time, without losing progress or forgetting which modules they had already completed.

2. Use Multiple Learning Formats

ISOtrain is a great place to incorporate multiple formats, like documents, learning courses, PowerPoints and quizzes. Many businesses use their LMS alongside their OJT for a blended learning approach — a strategy often associated with improved results. The LMS is a great supplement to hands-on learning, offering the material in a different format to meet various learning styles and reinforce topics. It also serves as a convenient spot for employees to access training materials later on.

3. Conduct Skills Gap Analyses

A gap analysis is a broad term that refers to finding deficits in the business that could be filled. In training, a skills gap analysis zeroes in on the knowledge gaps an employee may have, such as missed training requirements or a misunderstanding of certain job functions. These skill gaps ensure basic competency for certain tasks and boost the efficiency of the training program. After all, misunderstandings in one area can lead to problems in tasks that build off of the original topic.

An LMS captures all kinds of information related to training and employee education, like completed modules, activities and certificates. Then, you can generate reports and gain further insights. With this information, you'll easily identify skill gaps and take action to correct them. 


The two main parts of a skills gap analysis are:

  • Identifying your needs: What skills should the employee have and by what time? Are these skills assessed in a certain way, such as a certificate or formal assessment?

  • Identifying the employee's current capabilities: By tracking and recording OJT and other types of training, you'll quickly see what the employee can do and have access to the assessments or sign-offs they've completed.

From there, you can figure out where the two categories differ and fill in the gaps. These analyses are particularly useful in highly regulated industries, where you need to monitor and document employee training to ensure competency before they go to work on their own.

4. Offer Recognition

Employee recognition is a powerful tool in the workplace. Gartner found that recognition and rewards programs improve average employee performance by about 11%. ISOtrain is a great way to find opportunities for recognition. When employees finish a path or complete specific milestones, offer shout-outs or certificates. While verbal recognition is important during OJT, you may want to supplement it with a congratulatory email, a shout-out in the company newsletter or a documented certificate.

Your LMS identifies these opportunities and automates the process. Instead of manually issuing certificates, the LMS automatically issues them, along with congratulations whenever a user completes certain units or lessons. It ensures certificates and recognition get issued appropriately. It's also a significant time-saver, cutting out the work of issuing them manually.

5. Categorize and Collect Data

Depending on the size of the company, you may be conducting a significant amount of training. To effectively manage it all, you need to categorize it. You may choose to sort your training by delivery method, including online learning, in-person assessments and OJT. 


Other ways to categorize trainings include by employee type or job role. Earmark different lessons for:

  • New employees

  • Employees looking to improve their skills

  • Employees changing their roles

  • Employees learning company-wide changes, such as in response to regulations

Categorizing training is necessary for tracking it and understanding your entire training landscape. An LMS categorizes lessons and helps you incorporate OJT with the rest of your training strategy. Generate reports with the whole picture to understand every employee's scope of training.

Support OJT With ISOtrain

If you're looking to use on-the-job training as part of your employee education, you need a dependable LMS that works with it and offers comprehensive visibility. ISOtrain is a powerful LMS that helps you make sense of your OJT alongside all of your other training strategies. Whether you're starting from the ground up or need to import existing training records, ISOtrain makes the most of those OJT sessions.

As the LMS market leader for regulated industries, ISOtrain is completely configurable to your specifications. Reduce risk and save time with comprehensive tools for managing employees, analyzing data and meeting regulatory requirements. ISOtrain complies with many regulatory bodies, has seamless third-party integration tools and allows you to manage qualifications from a web browser or native mobile applications.

Learn more about ISOtrain online, or reach out to a representative to see how our LMS will optimize your OJT initiatives.