How On The Job Training Keeps Employees Fulfilled

By Nicolas Barnett, CEO of Insync Surveys

For most of us, at least 70 percent of the training we get is on-the-job. When we start a new role, we’re often thrown into the deep end. There’s a steep learning curve in the first few weeks where we learn the ins and outs of our role that aren’t captured in the formal job description. We spend time watching how others are doing things and apply our experiences and skills to the new setting. It can be stressful and exciting all at once. However, when the initial excitement subsides, where do employees look for career development and fulfilment?

My new book, 7 Business Habits That Drive High Performance, sets out the 7 things that most differentiate high performance organisations from low performance ones. Habit 3 “Develop your people” is an en essential step towards employee engagement and building high performance.

Not all organisations can afford external training programs and nor do they have the capacity within their structure for people to move rapidly through the ranks. So how else can we keep our talented employees fulfilled in their roles?

“On-the-job” training is underrated in this regard—it is not usually thought of as a way to create a sense of career fulfilment and greater employee engagement. But at Insync Surveys, we’ve found that a key driver of employee engagement is using employees’ skills and talents to their full potential. This means career development doesn’t have to always be a new training course or a new role. Leaders can find ways to engage their staff on-the-job by tapping into their employees’ passions and underutilised skills.

Allowing employees the flexibility and autonomy to use their skills and talents can make a great difference. Our most talented staff may be great at their job, but it’s likely that they have other skill sets they want to develop, or that they want to become increasingly proficient in their role. Here are some tips for developing your employees’ on-the-job in ways that utilise their full potential and ultimately increase their sense of fulfilment:

  1. Take time to get to know your employees interests and passions. During informal discussions, you’re likely to pick up parts of your employees’ personality that wouldn’t normally be disclosed in the work context. You may have a staff member who works in customer service but happens to enjoy creative writing. You may be able to organise a short-term secondment for him/her in the communications or marketing department where they can get some exposure to another part of the business. Or, you might ask them to write some articles for the newsletter or magazine.
  2. Create formal mentoring relationships between senior and junior staff members. You may have some junior staff who are looking for direction or inspiration in the organisation, and well-established staff who are looking to share their experience and wisdom with others. This is the perfect pairing for a mentor-mentee relationship where junior and senior staff can mutually benefit by sharing perspectives and experiences at work.
  3. Give them the same job but from a different perspective. Sometimes the exact same roles in an organisation will manifest very differently when in a different context e.g., being in a different office or state, or simply having a different boss or team. Changing people and teams or arranging intra-office transfers provides staff with a whole new set of challenges and perspectives, even if their day-to-day job is identical. There are new people to collaborate with, new structures to adhere to and new office dynamics to contend with. Such transfers facilitate knowledge sharing – the person doing your role in the other team or office may have some new tips or tricks up their sleeve to make your job more rewarding.
  4. Set stretch goals. Your most talented staff probably won’t take long to achieve their goals or hit a certain level of performance. This might be a good time to give them a challenge of a greater target or provide them with more people to manage. You may not necessarily be developing a technical work-related skill but you will certainly be developing your employee’s resilience, tenacity and sense of achievement when they succeed.               

Once you’ve progressed with habit 3, “develop your people” it dovetails into habits 4 and 5 in the book. That is to “go out of your way to recognise your people” and to “genuinely care for your people”. By investing time and effort in job-fulfilment we have a great opportunity to recognise employees for going above and beyond their typical roles. We’re also showing we care about how engaged our employees are by keeping things interesting.

Nicholas S. Barnett is a director, business leader and strategist with over 35 years’ experience. He is CEO of Insync Surveys and passionate about helping individuals, teams and organisations reach their full potential. Nicholas is also the author of the new book, 7 Business Habits That Drive High Performance (Major Street Publishing, $29.99). For more information visit or email [email protected].



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