Training and development is a vital part of all businesses today. Training has also evolved with technology in areas such as customised online learning platforms developed for companies, as well as the knowledge trainers have gained with regards to how different employees and generations learn.

There are several different types of face-to-face training in the corporate environment. One of these being “offsite” or formal training where a trainer presents information to a group of employees in a classroom setting and another being “onsite” training also known as training on-the-job. Training on-the-job is usually carried out by a more senior employee with experience and knowledge of the junior employee’s role and function in the organisation. The senior employee would tutor or mentor the junior employee while they are performing their tasks in their own work environment real-time on the job.

Formal classroom training most definitely is a great tool to inform and educate employees on important information and policies within the organisation and even strategies and tools to assist them in their daily tasks. However, it is not always completely effective in changing behaviour and allowing employees to apply what they have learnt in formal training to become more efficient and productive.

There have been many times that I, along with other employees, have attended formal training in the classroom setting, where we were given information on how to perform a certain task or how to become more productive in performing our daily tasks. On many of those occasions, I would leave the training thinking that the subject matter was very helpful but wondering how I was going to apply it in performing my daily tasks. Attendees also do not always fully understand what the trainer is presenting and they are fearful or ashamed to ask a question in order to grasp what they have not understood. The irony is that most of the training attendees do not understand the same aspects of the subject matter but no one is willing to ask the question and the result is that no one benefits from that particular part of the training. Employees then leave the formal classroom training confused or unsure of how to apply this knowledge. They soon forget the training contents, rendering the training pointless and costly without any real benefit for the organisation or employee.

I am not stating that formal classroom training is not beneficial, however it is not always completely effective when applied on its own in an organisation.

Benjamin Franklin once stated “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

It is equally important in an organisation to continue the learning process and allow employees to learn on-the-job, as well as presenting formal training to them. Training on-the-job gives the employee the opportunity to transfer their learning, practice what they have been taught and apply it to their own tasks on a daily basis, allowing the training subject matter to become a daily habit. There is little chance that the employee will forget the training subject matter if they have been trained into applying it in their day-to-day tasks.

Training on-the-job also creates a safe space where the employee can ask questions without fear and ask questions specific to their role and unique tasks. This solidifies their learning even further and employees who are trained in this way feel more valued and appreciated as the company is investing in them as individuals, and they will ultimately be more productive and more willing to stay on in the organisation.

Organisations should invest not only in formal training for their employees but should seriously consider implementing a training on-the-job or mentoring programme where employees can learn and apply knowledge gained in formal training to their own tasks and functions. This will allow the organisation and employees alike to get the most value out of the training provided.

Kim Venter

Audit Technical Training, Johannesburg

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