The modern work landscape is a hypercompetitive one, with businesses competing for sustainable innovation and growth. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of human capital development to business success. The secret is designing intentional learning to enable higher work performance. Designing learning at work is more than creating events; it is about an entire learning ecosystem.

Why Classroom-based Training Is Falling Short

Classroom-based training is falling short because organizations:

  • Incur the costs of employees’ time away from work as well as the training itself
  • Do not see sufficient transfer of learning to performance.
  • Are unable to address the on-demand fluidity of skills for effective work performance.
  • Are unable to tailor training to meet individual learners’ performance goals.

It’s also falling short because individuals:

  • Do not have protected time to practice their new skills.
  • Do not experience the quick wins necessary to immediately apply their new skills.
  • Have low motivation to learn.
  • Do not receive post-training guidance.
  • Lack performance support resources.

On-the-job Training

On-the-job training is an increasingly important and preferred option for individuals and organizations to enhance work performance. Designing the workplace learning experience must be intentional for employees to effectively apply what they learn to their work.

Any on-the-job training strategy must address key performance goals, learning needs and performance support tools. One approach is to adopt the design thinking methodology and prototype a “Learning @ Work” program to design the learning experience.

Learning @ Work Blueprint Prototyping

Prototyping is an iterative process that supports the continuous improvement of the program. Stakeholders (i.e., leaders, subject matter experts, instructors and even learners) can co-create the blueprint prototype. It provides an overarching framework for aligning on-the-job training to specific performance goals.

In this process, stakeholders brainstorm using sticky notes, drawing links connecting them to illustrate relationships. This exercise helps stakeholders uncover deeper insights and make adjustments quickly with ease. The categories for a Learning @ Work prototype should include:

Performance Goals: What performance outcomes do you want to achieve? How will you track and measure them? What work tasks do they apply to, or what problems will they solve?

Learner Persona: The learner persona includes information such as learners’ demographics, motivations, frustrations, personalities and receptiveness toward the use of technology.

Learning Needs: What do employees need to learn? How do they prefer to learn?

Strategies, Methods and Processes: Identify the types of Learning @ Work methods and processes in a format like this table:

On-the-job Training Strategies Sample Table

Performance Support

Performance support tools, such as job aids, checklists, templates and frequently asked questions (FAQ) documents provide learners with on-demand assistance (e.g., to help them recall procedural knowledge such as the steps for a task), helps to remove ambiguity, and reduces or eliminates errors.

Roll-out Plan

Upon completion of the final iteration of the Learning @ Work blueprint, enlist stakeholders to validate and provide insights on possible barriers. Below is an example roll-out plan template:

On-the-job Training Roll-out Plan Template_Headers: When (day, week, duration, etc.); Learning @ Work strategy, methods and processes; Who; Where; performance support resources; learning outcome(s); contingency actions

A Word of Caution

Business challenges evolve with new market conditions, so be sure to collaborate with stakeholders when fine-tuning the roll-out plan.