Planning for staff training isn't usually easy. You have to get everything right — the information, facilitators and time.
Still, most employees' formal training sessions are lengthy and, frankly, boring. This often results in information overload (or underload) — and distractions that leave teams uncertain about job processes and priorities.
So, how do you plan for your staff or company training materials and sessions?
The answer is in job aids for training. Job aids are complementary resources that support the training session, address training gaps and enhance employee job performance. These visual guides can serve dual functions: support the facilitator building the training session and enable employees long after training ends.
This article elaborates on how to create job aids for training, why you need them and how they’re used.
What is a job aid for training (& what it isn't)?
A job aid is material (digital or handout) that offers clear, step-by-step instructions on how to do tasks at work to enhance employees' job performance. In corporate education, it’s called a job aid for training.
A job aid for training (also known as a learning aid) captures all the training requirements and documentation to reinforce employee learning. It supports training needs, challenges and learning applications.
Sample job aids for training can include:
- Performance support tools.
- Memory joggers, etc.
Essentially, a job aid for training can be anything that makes training and employee learning easy to understand and applicable to real-world needs and challenges. There are two types of job aids for training that you’ll likely see:
- Step-by-step instructions for how to perform the training.
- Step-by-step instructions for how to do the task the training is about.
These documents help keep everyone on the same page, and ensure that training sessions run how they need to.
Job aids as training materials are usually one-page printed documents but can also be digital, like PDF files, PowerPoint files, infographics, etc.
Scribe top tip: Tools like Scribe automate the documentation process, giving you a digital step-by-step guide that you can share, embed or export.
Facilitators are able to check against the right information as a reference to answer questions or spark discussion. And learners have easy access to training information that strengthens their job performance and helps them perform tasks.
Like we said before, sometimes training sessions can be boring. And when you lose attention, your employees miss out on vital education. Job aids are pre-training and follow-up item with all of the information they need.
Plus, training programs might not capture all information, and a complementary resource can fill gaps in formal programs.
What a job aid for training isn’t
It's critical not to confuse job aids for training with job training because they serve distinct purposes.
A job aid for training isn't training material. It's pre-training and follow-up material with information on how to carry out whatever you discussed in the training and reminders of the important training areas for their jobs. Documents used during the training session are training materials — typically a PowerPoint or worksheet.
Job aids for training have a specific need and use case. They’re not training tools but complementary documentation to support the training session and the job itself.They simplify training information and processes to help managers plan the training, and help employees retain the information.
The importance of job aids for training & how they’re used
First, what is the role of job aids in training?
Job aids improve employee performance and ease of work by helping them:
- Remember how to do things.
- Solve work problems.
- Test new workflows.
- Adopt changes and new work models.
How do job aids for training do this?
Training can only go so far and only stays in an individual's memory for a short period.
When the formal coaching session grows stale after a few weeks, you'll likely hear a familiar chorus of "Can you remind me how to…?"
That's when job aids for training come into play.
Why use job aids for training?
A job aid for training is available on demand to support getting a job done… right when you need it. So, instead of waiting for another training session or chasing down the supervisor for support, the employee turns to the job aid for refresher information to help them finish the job.
Job aids for training aren’t just useful; they’re important. Here’s why.
Conduct simplified training
Job aids lay down training requirements and information to help people learn. They supplement and reinforce the training to improve employee performance long after it’s over.
Furthermore, job aids in training support information retention and streamline training programs.
Think about it this way, if your facilitator has an aid, they can confidently conduct the training. And if your employees have aids, you can likely cut that training time in half.
Use as a reference tool
Training programs provide lots of important knowledge. But learners (employees) can't retain all of those processes accurately, particularly on jobs they don’t regularly do. Job aids are usually available at a physical workstation or digital knowledge base to support complex tasks and work procedures.
A ready reference guide helps employees work faster and increases productivity. Employees don't have to wait for the next training schedule or find their training material to get the necessary information. They’ll feel more confident on the job and have way less opportunity for error.
Increase on-the-job productivity
Jobs aids for training blend learn-as-you-work (continuous learning) and on-demand learning to increase proficiency by a whopping 50 percent.
Save employee time by creating accessible resource documents in an easy-to-use knowledge management system. Make sure it’s standardized and organized so they don’t waste time searching or accidentally use outdated information.
Job aids can increase productivity by:
- Reducing training time. With job aids, employees get hands-on training and learn as they work, reducing the need for time spent on prior training.
- Providing quicker, on-demand access. Job aids give employees personalized job information with relevant knowledge, which they can access wherever the need arises.
- Reinforcing learning. Once the formal training program ends, job aids help employees refine, review and reinforce what they learned. In turn, they become more self-sufficient and productive at work.
- Encouraging ongoing education. While formal training programs have start and end dates, job aids provide a continuous learning cycle for problems and work issues. This allows ongoing reference for employees to meet work demands effectively. Each time employees interact with a job aid, they get a performance boost.
Help employees retain and update information
Job aids for training help employees retain information for use when needed. For example, new hires can use it to recall orientation information and apply it on the job.
In addition to remembering information from training, job aids also help improve job performance when processes change. When work evolves, job aids help communicate the updates in a way that’s easy to identify and understand.
Tools like Scribe automate the documentation process, making it easier than ever to update information. Scribe is a step-by-step guide generator that auto-creates visual job aids for any digital process. And as processes change, simply click “Edit,” to update a step, change text or swap out a screenshot. All updates are universal, so you’ll never have to sift through 100 versions of the same doc again.
How to Create job aids for training (step-by-step)
Creating a job aid begins with having a clear goal and outcome. Then, with the right steps, you need to create a structured document that helps improve the training outcome and employee job performance.
That said, to be effective, job aids for training should be:
- Well-designed and easy to use.
- Relevant to the training and job.
A complex, irrelevant job aid will cause more harm to the employees and overall company productivity.
The following steps will help you create an effective job aid for training.
- Define your training audience.
- Gather information regarding the training.
- Choose a job aid structure.
- Select the format or media.
- Write the job aid for the training draft.
- Test the job aid for effectiveness and revise.
- Implement your job aid.
Let's discuss them in detail below.
1. Define your training audience
You should understand two things about the job aid for training. Who you're creating it for and what information it should have.
An effective job aid for training is tailor-made for the particular training needs of specific employees. So, are the employees entry-level, C-suite level, medium-level, etc.? Is it to support the facilitator, or are you giving it to employees after the fact?
The best kind of job aids for training are those that align with the employee level to ensure the training documentation contains the right information for the particular audience.
For example, while you can use technical terms for technicians, C-Suite level staff may find those terms difficult to understand.
Your goal is to make sure every individual in training benefits from the job aid — during and after training.
2. Gather training info
Once you know the audience, you should know their training needs based on their job levels and requirements.
How will you obtain the information?
First, you'll conduct a needs analysis of employees and the job. You'll find out what the employees already know about the training topic and what they need to know for effective job performance. This includes:
- Job processes.
- Points of friction.
- Common mistakes.
- Alternative methods.
Second, you'll conduct research. Online research and one-on-one interviews. Talk to a range of staff with experience about the particular job need. Understand how they complete it, the steps they use, the order of the steps, etc.
Understand how the perspectives of new employees differ from seasoned ones. Also, talk to less motivated employees and understand why they feel that way and how the training can improve their perspective.
Gathering the right information will help you include the proper messaging to reach your audience.
3. Choose the type of job aid
How will you present the job aid for training? The proper structure depends on the training needs or task.
Job aids fall into three categories.
When a job/project has many variables or tasks, you can use a checklist to list them in no particular order.
Employees can simply refer to the tasks that need to be done and check them off the list. Checklists are helpful for planning, organizing, and managing projects/tasks.
For example, equipment inspection often references a checklist.
Step-by-step model instructions and flowcharts
When a task/project requires a particular order, the job aid may be presented as a step-by-step instruction or a flowchart. They support tasks that you perform in chronological order without multiple outcomes.
These job aids might be short lists, visual walkthroughs with illustrations or decision trees. What happens next depends on the previous step.
For example, the steps to qualify sales prospects could be a flowchart or step-by-step guide.
When conducting training or working a real job, there are some tips or reminders you don't need all at once. You'll only glance or refer to them when needed. That’s why they’re called reference guides.
Reference guides best support finding fragmented information or relaying overlooked or forgotten content.
Reference guides include a training table of contents, a list of SKU numbers, storage facilities on a map, etc. They're only used when needed and provide immediate information/knowledge about steps, jobs or tasks.
Note that a job aid may sometimes have many categories, each with a distinct structure. You'll only know this after you've written the first draft.
4. Select the format or media
How will the audience or staff access the job aid for training?
Whether it's a checklist, flowchart, reference guide, etc., you need to make the job aid easily accessible to employees.
The common media formats for job aids are:
- Videos (sometimes animated).
- Laminated handouts.
- Sticky notes.
- Mobile app (an interactive app).
- Picture (or digital JPG).
- Interactive PDFs.
Most job aids are visual because 67 percent of people better understand concepts when communicated visually. So, use images, charts, pictures, worksheets, etc., rather than wall texts for your job aid format.
If possible, embed links to digital job aids with more enhanced learning content.
You should choose a format before the draft to ensure that the information fits well. Usually, job aids are one-pagers or less, visible in one glance without turning a page or scrolling.
5. Write the job aid for the training draft
When writing your first draft of the job aid, it's important to remember that job aids aren't training. So, you need to be as brief as possible, using short sentences and action verbs.
In short, use action words on the instruction and add visuals.
There are different ways to create a job aid.
- Use job aid sites like Venngage to create infographics or workflows with varying icons, color palettes, fonts and illustrations.
- Use project management resources like Scribe, Asana, Notion and ClickUp to create job aids and revisable templates
- Make a job aid from scratch on your computer by recording a workflow and including screenshots.
The steps to writing a job aid from scratch are:
- Take a screenshot. You can use your computer or Mac's built-in screenshot tool or a third-party tool to capture the screen image you want to use.
- Annotate the image. If you're describing a task, mark up the image using arrows to point out the steps or workflows. It's important to number them.
- Have a clear, consistent look. Make your color scheme and style, fonts, words, etc., consistent to avoid simple confusion.
Here is a sample job aid for training (no images) for a step-by-step app sign-in.
- Enter the company-given email address.
- Create a password. Follow the company password guideline.
- Fill in your details.
- Confirm the 2FA.
- Confirm you're human.
- Sign in to the app.
You can adapt these steps based on different apps and company settings.
6. Test the job aid for effectiveness
You need to find out how your job aid performs in real training or job situations. This is the only way to know its effectiveness and find improvement areas.
How do you do this?
- Find an obliging company staff or coworker and give them the job aid. It's better if you give it to 3 or more people.
- Observe the employees using the job aid and record. Resist the urge to guide them and just sit back and observe how they naturally use the job aid.
- Take notes about their application.
- Ask them their perspective about the material and how it improves their job performance.
Once you collect enough feedback, revise and rewrite the job aid using your learned and employee perspectives.
7. Implement the job aid
After revising it, make it available to employees and management where they can access it easily. Depending on its format, you can hang the job aid on a wall, next to a desk, in a downloadable digital format or anywhere the employees can access it.
Encourage the employees to use it to support their job performance.
Challenges of making a job aid
Making and implementing a job aid for training comes with many challenges. First, creating a job aid takes and requires proper planning. As time changes, corporations and SMBs need to regularly use the material to fit the changing job and employee needs.
Also, different job aspects may require job aids to be in different structures and formats, both digital and printed. Keeping all the documents in one place and regularly updating them is challenging.
Based on different design procedures, a business can sometimes include complex design elements that may require additional employee training. It can waste time and reduce efficiency.
How do you counter these challenges?
Use Scribe to design job aids for training
Completing a job aid can be simple with the right process and tools.
Scribe allows you to skip the manual work and auto-generate job aids. Using the extension or desktop app, you can automatically generate step-by-step guides for any process. It allows you to create a visual guide with text and screenshots — instantly.
Also, with Scribe, you can:
- Develop and combine job aids in visual process documents.
- Easily share, link or embed job aids.
Endnote: how to create powerful job aids for training
Job aids for training are vital learning tools that enhance employee performance.
Designing job aids for training is a process almost identical to designing learning content. The steps are:
- Know your audience.
- Pick a topic.
- Gather important information.
- Choose a format.
- Develop the content and test it. The test helps you to collect meaningful feedback for improvement.
This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process. Create powerful, visual job aids for training in seconds with tools like Scribe. Get started today!