Ever have to sit through an hour-long training session for a problem that could have been resolved with a simple job aid? Job aids can sometimes be overlooked as a powerful and effective training solution because they seem so simple and basic. Don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity of job aids: when designed correctly, they can be highly effective workplace tools. And they are usually a lot less expensive to create than instructor-led training sessions or e-learning modules.

What is a job aid, anyway? Job aids are tools that help learners quickly access information they need to perform on-the-job tasks.

Common types of job aids include:

  • checklist
  • decision table
  • flowchart or diagram
  • procedure guide
  • reference document
  • worksheet

The job aid you should create depends on the training problem you’re trying to solve. Are you training learners on a complex documentation process that typically results in high error rates? If so, you might consider a procedure guide that walks them through each step of filling out the document. Or perhaps your sales employees need info they can quickly access in order to get relevant data about company products. Offer them a reference document that highlights the key features of each product.

There was recently a great discussion in the E-Learning Heroes community about job aid design, where community members shared some really helpful and insightful tips. Here are the highlights:

Put Yourself in the Learner's Shoes

To get started with your job aid, one of the most important things you can do is to put yourself in the learner’s shoes. As Ben Gianacakos explains, you want to understand key information about your learners, such as: “What is their workflow? How do they use systems? What interferences do they have?”

In addition to gathering information about the learner’s environment and system access, you also want to consider the situation they will be in when they need the job aid. As Dave Neal says: “It always helps me to imagine myself as a frustrated user of whatever the job aid is being created for. What would make me happy to see? What would get in the way? Should it be step by step, or a list of helpful items?”

Take Note of the Physical Environment

Are your learners sitting at their desk, with access to their computers, various systems, and the web? Or are they out in the field, working in the elements with heavy equipment? Community member Mark McCoy makes this great point: “If the job aid is to be used outside, in the field, I would suggest a laminated sheet. If the work is done with a computer nearby, consider making a video job aid or micro-elearning session.”

Consider the Business Context

When you’re developing training resources for an organization, keep in mind that oftentimes the tasks and procedures learners are being trained on can be tied directly to a business need or a key performance indicator within the company. Community member Alexander Salas says you should “always starts with the business need.” By having a clear idea of the business requirements related to the job aid, you can ensure your resources align with those goals and provide maximum value.

Make Them Easily Accessible

Rita Garcia shares her experience: “I’ve seen dozens of projects with great job aids not adding much value because users don’t where to look for them.” With that in mind, make sure you communicate clearly with learners about where they can find job aids, and make them easily and quickly accessible.

These are just a few helpful tips you can follow to make sure your next job aid hits the mark with your learners. Do you have any other tips that weren’t mentioned? Keep in mind, you can always jump into this community discussion about job aid design anytime. We love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

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