This is how personnel development works on the job

The classic in executive development: we take two days to do role-play and then hope that the executives are a little better at conducting their appraisal interviews. This is also called off the job personnel development. 

From our point of view, the – trend is completely right. – for on the job personnel development.

Personnel development on the job means that further education and training measures are carried out in the direct work context of the employee. There is no extra event for it, but it is firmly integrated into everyday life and is not perceived as an additional expense. 


Personnel development on the job – definition

In on-the-job personnel development, skills can be learned or productivity can be promoted. You are usually accompanied and trained in everyday work by experienced employees or trainers. Because what is the best way to learn? Right, through experience. 

Typical methods that are carried out on the job in personnel development are Job rotation, Job enlargement and Job enrichment.

Job rotation: the field of work is changed. 

For example, in an advertising agency, responsibility for social media, print and websites could rotate regularly. This offers variety, but also requires skills in all areas – in any case you learn something.

Job Enlargement: The field of work is expanded. 

For example, a media designer who was previously only responsible for logos could now also make color corrections on poster designs. The type of stress alternates and should offer recovery from monotonous tasks.

Job enrichment: The field of work is on a higher requirement level Graised

For example, the aforementioned media designer could now present his designs to the customer himself. So he / she takes on more responsibility and may learn more Fulfillment through work.


on the job vs. off the job vs. near the job

Personnel development on the job, as well as off the job and near the job, are all instruments of personnel development. They indicate how close the training is to the work context.

Off the job would mean, for example, external training and near the job one Workshop with clear reference to the work tasks.

Personnel development on the job has the advantage that what has been learned is applied directly in the work context and does not have to be transferred from training to work. A training process is only successfully completed when behavior has been changed. Therefore, the mere conclusion of a training session doesn't mean anything.

Advantages of personal development on the job

Frontal teaching is no longer the means of all things. With personnel development on the job, the training can be adapted to the individual needs of the employee and his work environment. In addition, it can be carried out over a longer period of time and enables complex procedures to be consolidated.

Nevertheless, it makes sense to combine methods. Not everything can be adequately conveyed through practical application or it would be too time-consuming and costly.


Implementation of personnel development on the job

Businesses these days need constant Changes in the world of work cope with to stay competitive. But instead of constantly hiring new employees, existing employees should be promoted, entirely in the spirit of a learning organization

A principle of learning organizations is the quick implementation of what has been learned, as makes on the job possible through personnel development.

Steps of personal development on the job

  1. Needs analysis: what is the problem? Where can you improve?
  2. Implementation by qualified staff, if necessary support by experienced employees or external trainers
  3. Transfer of what has been learned (already secured by on the job measures)
  4. Effectiveness measurement, e.g. through pulse surveys: is the result sustainable?

A recommended method for on-the-job personnel development is the introduction of so-called regular lessons-learned workshops or agile retrospectives. They have the power to get managers and employees out of their comfort zone in a targeted manner and to create something that many other methods fail to do: sustainability of the measures.

Our digital coach Echometer, a spin-off from the psychological faculty of the University of Münster, was developed to further develop managers and teams on-the-job. Take a look at how the company-wide introduction of retrospectives has affected the employer brand and culture at Shopware-AG:


Mincer, Jacob (1962): On-the-Job Training: Costs, Returns, and Some Implications. Journal of Political Economy, 70 (5, Part 2), 50-79. DOI: 10.1086 / 258725. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/258725?journalCode=jpe 

Wegerich, Christine (2015): Strategic Personnel Development in Practice. Instruments, success models, checklists, practical examples. 3rd edition Berlin: Springer Gabler. http://gbv.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=1974130.

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