As a company specialising in Learning on the Job we have ourselves learned a lot. Time to share.
Did you know that worldwide there are two billion field workers? Most of them participate in ‘on-the-job-learning’ and are educated internally. However, learning on the job has its challenges. These can be brought back to four main topics: Time shortage, Reliability of knowledge, Lack of repetition and ‘The problem of the expert’. In this article we will first discuss these 4 challenges and then provide suggestions on how to tackle them.
1-The challenge of time shortage
Training a new employee can be a time-consuming task. Managing one’s own work and simultaneously taking on the responsibility of a new employee can be a lot of pressure and the newbie can start to feel as a burden. However, this is not only problematic for the work coach, but also for the new employee. As a result of time shortage, the new employee does not get enough time and attention to fully learn all the requirements of his job properly. Due to lack of time, crucial information can be forgotten and the on the job training is not really efficient or can even be faulty.
2- Reliability of knowledge
As a direct consequence of this time shortage, important background information can be left out.
For example, if the work coach has to explain the procedure of working a certain machine, he will show the new employee which buttons to push and how to handle the machine, however, forgets to explain the mechanism behind the machine. It is understandable that an employee wants to help his new colleague get started as soon as possible, however, whereas the ‘how’ of a certain task is explained, the ‘why’ remains vague. Subsequently, important knowledge falls through.
3- Lack of repetition
Another important challenge with learning on the job, is that the new employee is unable to practise or make mistakes, whilst learning on the job. One oftens looks over the shoulder of the coach and follows his steps, without having the chance to try for himself. Without repetition the employee will likely forgets most of the information by the time he has to work independently.
4- ‘The expert coach’-problem
‘The expert’-problem is an important element within the problem of reliability.
New employees are trained by company experts.. However, every expert has his own routines and methods of working, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is always the right way. It is very possible that over the years the expert has picked up some unnoticed errors in his work, or even doesn’t know everything, which he is now (not) passing on to the new employee. This is problematic, since it is almost impossible to make sure the new employee learns everything the right way.
GPAL is a mobile app and platform that innovates the process of learning. Traditional manners of education are often proved to be inefficient and visual learning is becoming more appreciated. With GPAL, employees can watch instructional videos on the job, which are made by the company’s own experts. The GPAL app has a lot of advantages and was designed to tackle the 4 main challenges of on the job learning. We believe that learning on the job should be facilitated by an instrument such as GPAL to work properly. Working this way it may even become the preferred learning method as it has many more advantages.
Tackling the challenge of time shortage
Using the GPAL app in addition to the normal way of learning has proven to be a very efficient way of training employees on the job. The app can provide in a huge structured set of instructional videos covering all important company systems, procedures and machines. These videos are made by one’s own experienced employees, since they are really the experts. In this manner new employees can be trained in a time-efficient manner as they can, for a large part, learn by themselves. Time-shortage is no longer a barrier for a successful transfer of knowledge. The work coach can refer to the GPAL App for most of the procedures and can therefore be more of a “real” coach for the rest of his time. The learner can watch videos while standing in front of the machine or object of knowledge and learn autonomously. As the employee can always access all instructions on his mobile device, he can learn anytime and anywhere on the job. Remaining or new questions can be asked in the GPAL App to all other colleagues. The coach now has more time to provide context instead of explaining routines over and over again.
Tackling the challenge of Reliability
The GPAL App also has a really efficient way of collectively working towards more and more accurate knowledge. Enthusiast employees are able to film themselves, whilst explaining a specific chorus. This video is then uploaded in the app. It is possible to let the videos pass through an approval system first, before making them available to the other employees. This way, the videos are approved by internal experts and one is sure these are “certified” instructions. This way important background information doesn’t fall through and the new employees have a better and deeper understanding of their work. The other option is to let all video instruction in without approval and by the ability of employees to discuss and react upon the filmed procedures the instruction can be improved. Colleagues can even make new and better instructions in an instant.. In this way, the videos are constantly exposed to feedback of employees and experts resulting in a constant improvement of quality. A great side effect of this is that all procedures are “owned” by the responsible group of the employees a thing we never saw happening before.
Tackling the lack of Repetition
While the coach can show things the first time, with the GPAL App a new employee is stimulated to engage with his work procedures repeatedly supported by the video instructions. As they visually see what they have to do standing in front of the object of learning, it becomes much easier to practice on the job. For that GPAL has a special product called “Training” The employee is now able to practise and interact with his work in his own pace and without the fear of making severe mistakes. The use of GPAL leads to more confident, autonomous and motivated employees, resulting in a faster learning process.
Tackling the ‘Problem of the expert’
Nobody knows everything, However, as GPAL also provides the ability of peer 2 peer reviewing within the company, all employees have access to each others videos and can comment, like or respond with a video of their own. This stimulates the continuous improvement of knowledge within the company and moreover, faulty knowledge is detected and corrected faster. In doing so a collective brain is created in the GPAL App.
Furthermore, GPAL is a great way to refresh knowledge among employees that are already in the business for a long time. It also becomes easier to share innovative ideas and efficient methods within the company or even between different locations, whereas employees can share their work routines with each other and exchange ideas.
In short, GPAL is an innovative learning solution designed to tackle the main challenges of learning on the job. And as one might say: Innovation is all about doing!
Do you also want to tackle your ‘learning on the job’ – challenges, or discover more about the GPAL Platform, please contact Erik Liet on +31 6 13 13 2889 or firstname.lastname@example.org