In order to keep up with the rapidly changing nature of work, traditional training is changing. Today’s employees don’t have the luxury to spend big chunks of time reading or viewing training content that they may “theoretically” need, but ultimately never use and quickly forget.
Enter just-in-time training (JIT), a learning paradigm that’s gaining momentum in human resources circles after transforming the manufacturing sector. What is just-in-time training?
Just-in-Time Training: Definition
JIT training is a flexible approach to training based on the idea that not all employees need to be exposed to the same information or learn the same skills. It recognizes that multitasking, modern employees want to access training at the exact time they need it. As their jobs become more specific, so do their training needs; they seek project-specific training and materials that can be immediately and directly applied to solving a specific problem. Note that you will also hear it referred to as just-in-time eLearning or on-demand learning.
Learning on Demand vs. Learning on Command
The opposite of learning on demand is the top-down model, learning on command. No surprise here: employees respond better to training and are more effective learners when they are in the driver’s seat. In practice, this means encouraging employees to go out and find answers for themselves. Just in time learning is also consistent with how we human beings are programmed to learn. The 70-20-10 model, for example, suggests that 90 percent of the learning we do is organic, project-oriented learning that occurs on the job and via social relationships. Learning on command still has its time and place, but we’re seeing considerably less of it.
Industries and Sectors
JIT training is having a significant impact on a number of industries, especially those, like healthcare and the financial services industry, that depend on having highly trained employees who are empowered to react quickly and responsively to customers’ changing needs.
JIT Learning Benefits
Why adopt just-in-time training at your business? This flexible approach benefits your employees and, in turn, their productivity – which leads to greater ROI for your company in the long run. Here are just a few ways JIT training stands to improve your bottom line.
Create Sense of NOW
When employees adopt a just-in-time mindset, they can respond quickly and decisively to rapidly changing conditions, with conviction and urgency. They don’t wait for guidance from above. They are flexible, agile learners, and when they identify a customer problem or need, they want to solve it now.
Efficiency and Productivity Gains
What happens when not one employee but all of your employees adopt the just-in-time mindset? When everyone in your company is on the same page – focusing on what they need to learn, when they need to learn it – the company can experience a significant increase in efficiency and productivity. As employees assume responsibility for their own learning, the need for instructor-led training is reduced. Over time, a learning culture based on just-in-time principles can take shape.
Increased Motivation & Knowledge Retention
When employees have an opportunity to learn and apply a new skill, their concentration and focus are sharpened. This is why just-in-time learning is so valuable. Employees learn better and retain knowledge longer when they are called upon to learn something practical or to solve an immediately relevant problem. This affects mindset and motivation: when you put your employees in charge and give them ownership of their own training (along with plenty of support), they rise to the challenge.
Flexibility and Convenience
Modern, on-demand learners don’t rest. They like to be connected 24/7 via smartphones and other mobile devices, enabling them to solve customer needs on-the-go. Millennials and even younger members of Generation Z like to consume easy-to-digest learning “bites” at their convenience and desired pace. This is where just-in-time learning and mobile learning intersect.
How can companies implement a successful JIT training program that gives them a competitive edge? Follow these guidelines:
- Promote Active Learning Culture
Active learners don’t wait for HR to enroll them in a training course. They take the initiative and seek out knowledge and skills that are relevant to their job. Active learners are driven by passion and motivation to learn and grow. Keep in mind, however, that creating an active learning culture in your company takes time and requires a commitment from the top.
- Design and Deliver Courses and Content
Remember, when it comes to JIT training, less is more. You’re aiming for bite-sized, micro-content designed to be easily digested on a mobile device. Part of the challenge for instructional designers is determining what part of the content is immediately relevant and what can be left out.
- Facilitate Peer-Based Learning
While just-in-time learning can be an extremely empowering training paradigm, the idea is not for employees to become islands unto themselves. Many times, in fact, the fastest and most accurate answer to a problem will come from a co-worker, mentor, or other subject matter expert. This can take the form of online discussion groups, employee forums, and direct messaging. Employees’ ability to access their online professional networks via social media integrations is central to the success of any JIT training program; it’s all about having the right information at your fingertips, at the right time.
- Invest in an Online Learning Portal
How are you going to implement your just-in-time training program? Start by investing in an online learning portal, so your content and courses can be accessed and administered from one user-friendly interface. One of the more popular portals is a learning management system (LMS), a powerful, mobile-centric system equipped with awesome features like social and collaborative learning, gamification, and real-time reporting and analytics.
At the end of the day, JIT training is really about constructing a learning ecosystem, made up of applications, technologies, and, yes, human beings, to support employee training and development.