Organizations today are realizing that instructor-led training may not be enough to meet the demands of rapid changes in demographics, technology, and globalization. According to a report by the Research Institute of America, 33 minutes after completion of a live course, students retain only 58 percent of information covered in instructor-led training courses. Only 33 percent is retained by the second day, and a month later, only 13 percent of the information covered in the course is retained (as cited in Brenner, M., 2008, p. 5).
Training vs. Job Aid
Training is similar to a Job Aid, but training is more of a planned process to enable learners to acquire a necessary skill to enhance ability. The purpose of training is for the material to become part of the learner’s long term memory, to be called upon later for instantaneous results. On the other hand, Job aids are designed to direct more immediate, “on-demand” performance, as the need to know arises. Also, while Job Aids provide instantaneous information for a particular task, training involves presentation, practice, and feedback pertaining to the information to be mastered.
The ability to recognize when a Job Aid should or should not be used is a skill that a HRD professional possesses. As with training, the Instructional Designer’s goal is to deliver a Job Aid that is effective, efficient and appealing. The table below lists some instances in which a Job Aid should and should not be used (Rossett & Schafer, 2007, pp. 21-30). . Again, the HRD professional would be knowledgeable in making this determination.
|Job Aids should be used when||Job Aids should not be used when|
|Performance is infrequent. Job Aids are perfect when an individual cannot be expected to remember how to do something that is rarely performed. Have you ever consulted the owner’s manual for your vehicle to set the clock back or ahead one hour in the fall and spring? The owner’s manual is a Job Aid.||Credibility would be damaged. Sometimes we are expected to be experts at the jobs we perform. Would you like your dentist to be referring to a Job Aid while performing a root canal?|
|The situation is complex. If the task involves many steps and is information intensive, a Job Aid is beneficial. For example, what are the steps involved in preparing a concrete substrate to accept sheet goods? For this task, I would consult the project’s specifications. The specifications are a Job Aid.||Speed is essential to a task. I issue at least two change orders to subcontractors daily. If I had to refer to a Job Aid each time, I would certainly be lacking in productivity. Certain tasks we perform should be second nature.|
|The consequences for error are high. Strong mentioned that his organization uses a Job Aid when performing structural calculations. Here, accurate results are mandatory. The employee’s reputation, as well as that of the organization, is a stake. A mistake in calculations could have unsafe or even fatal results.||Unpredictable situations occur. If there are too many exceptions to the rule, Job Aids would become difficult to follow. The key here is that the content must remain stable in order for a Job Aid to be effective. In my line of work, the pay request process for each project differs substantially. If a Job Aid is created for this task, it would have to be project specific.|
|It becomes necessary to access vast or changing bodies of knowledge. Here again I would refer to project specifications. The information contained therein is so technical and so vast that the project team members couldn’t possibly remember every detail. We rely on the printed technical specifications.||Masterful performance is needed. Here again I cite the example of the dentist. We trust that our dentists have mastered their skills.|
|There is high turnover or task simplicity. Strong pointed out that as his organization expands, the rate of employee turnover increases. Rather than invest in training, Job Aids offer the support that new-hires need.||Employees are unaccustomed to consulting references. This information would be the result of a learner analysis. Can the learner read? Can the learner read well enough to comprehend the material?|
|There are not significant resources to support training. Organizations may not have the time or resources to invest in training. Today’s ailing economy makes the trend of on-demand learning a reality.||Employees are not motivated to try hard. If employees are not interested in improving their performance, Job Aids may be left untouched or ignored. KNOW your learner!|
A driving force that is causing organizations to lean toward on-demand learning rather than instructor-led training is the ailing economy. The economy paves the way for a future that will keep the trend of on-demand learning profitable for the HRD professional. Organizations are realizing that resources are lost when time is consumed sending their employees to training. Organizations are learning from experience that instruction is ineffective for concepts that must become second nature to the employee.
Organizations are realizing that Job Aids in conjunction with training can reduce the length of training and reduce the amount of resources (time and money) spent. The use of Job Aids can efficiently supplement training, leading to an educated workforce with on-demand access to information they need.
Organizations can realize customer satisfaction and enhanced employee performance leading to increased profitability when they successfully implement a learning strategy that connects content and learners. On-Demand Learning can be tracked, measured and leveraged by the organization when the learning is shared throughout the organization.
Organizations are viewing On-Demand Learning as a critical new tool. Today, employees are overwhelmed with immense volumes of information. Organizations need to bridge the knowledge gap by providing users with critical information as they are performing day-to-day activities. I think that organizations combining formal and informal learning, blended into the way that users work, are much more likely to produce high-performing, knowledgeable business professionals. In addition, organizations can make more informed decisions about investments in future learning assets by gaining insight into the use and relevance of On-Demand Learning.
Brenner, M. (September 2008). Learning or Performance Enhancement: Which Is It? Chief Learning Officer.
Rossett, A. and Schafer, L. (2007). Job Aids & Performance Support: Moving from Knowledge in the Classroom to Knowledge Everywhere. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer—John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A. Human Resource Development