At Great West Casualty Company, we recognize that the best way to set up our company, customers, and team for success is to start with a strong training program for new hires. We call this program On the Job Training (OJT), and it is an essential part of our new employee onboarding.
We structure our OJT like you might build a house: an employee must have a solid foundation of learning before adding layers. When done correctly, the result is an employee who feels valued, is engaged, and is committed to doing a great job.
Before the new employee’s first day, we assign an OJT trainer to develop a plan with the new hire’s supervisor. Each plan includes weekly measurable goals to ensure progress is being made. The trainer works side by side with the new employee to provide opportunities for hands-on practice and feedback as learning occurs. Regular training meetings are held with the manager, supervisor, OJT trainer, and new hire to discuss progress, set goals for the coming week, and answer any questions the new hire might have.
The OJT culture is alive and well at Great West. The efforts of everyone involved have proven to increase retention and job satisfaction for our employees. But don’t just take our word for it. We asked some of our current OJT trainers and recent OJT trainees to give you further insights into the program.
Kristin S. | Claims Processor | 3 Years at Great West Casualty
Eva T. | Sr. Liability Claims Adjuster | 23 Years at Great West Casualty
Deb L. | Claims Processor| 27 Years at Great West Casualty
|Why did you choose to be an OJT trainer?
Kristin: I wanted to make a difference by helping new employees understand our process and how they can provide good customer service.
Eva: I became an OJT trainer to help strengthen our department. I think good training helps us retain employees.
Deb: I felt becoming an OJT trainer was a great opportunity to develop leadership skills. Becoming an OJT Trainer was a chance for me to give back to the company and department.
What are some important things to remember when training a new employee?
Kristin: Practicing patience and empathy are important when training a new employee. You have to take the time to explain the processes and understand that the way you explain something to the new hire might not click right away so you might need to explain something again or re-phrase it. Showing empathy to the new employees is very important. We all remember our first day or understand that learning something new can be daunting or confusing. Letting them know it is okay to have those feelings and communicating that they are not alone in this can strengthen new bonds and allow them to know we are here to help.
Eva: Every trainee is unique, so you have to gear the pace of training to the person you are training.
Deb: An important aspect to remember when training a new employee is to be as thorough and clear as possible in conveying the duties and responsibilities of the position. It is important to be able to adapt to the employee's learning and comprehension styles. You need to be able to “read” the employee's body language and attitude to make sure the employee understands the procedures. This may require the trainer to explain and demonstrate the concept in different ways. There is so much to learn, but creating a strong base of knowledge for the employee is key to the employee’s success.
What are some unique aspects of Great West’s OJT culture?
Kristin: I believe one of the unique aspects of the training culture is that Great West’s OJT puts not only the effort but also the time into the training of new employees. We spend several weeks working on the building blocks of how to do each step of the department’s work. We spend time going over examples and explain how our setup affects those departments around us. We discuss any needs to further help the new employees each week, mark down our accomplishments, and set goals for the weeks to come.
Eva: I think the fact that management is backing the programs and sharing in the processes, because the outcome benefits the company and department.
Deb: I feel the one-on-one concept of the training process is unique, and the “hands-on” learning concept helps the employee achieve a rewarding training process.How is the OJT training program valuable to you?
Kristin: This program shows that Great West cares about its employees and customers. We provide the training, tools, and time needed to help our employees to do their jobs efficiently. We have a structured program to introduce each department’s training needs for our employees to help our customers.
Eva: It helps with employee retention and gives me the opportunity to have a positive impact on my department and the company.
Deb: The OJT training program has developed my confidence and leadership qualities in ways I never anticipated. It also is a good reminder that we all can learn new things about our company and responsibilities, even if we have been with the company many years. Learning never ends!What is the most challenging or rewarding part of being an OJT trainer?
Kristin: I think the most rewarding part is when a new employee appreciates the steps we take to train them. The process isn’t rushed, and we spend the time to introduce them to their positions and the company as a whole.
Eva: When I train, I am able to get back to the basics. Training serves as a refresher course for me as well at times.
Deb: The most challenging part of being an OJT trainer is the amount of knowledge and the number of procedures needed to train a new Claims Processor. I remind myself that we build knowledge day by day with the goal of the trainee knowing more at the end of each week of training than he or she knew at the beginning of the week. The most rewarding part of training is seeing the “ah-ha” moments when the concepts all come together and the trainee develops his or her work into the best possible product.
Recent OJT Trainees
Mike H. | Safety Representative
Jeff N. | Safety Representative
|What kind of training experience were you expecting when you came to Great West?
Mike: I was unsure of what the training would look like, but based on Great West’s reputation and applicant screening process, I anticipated a high-quality and relevant assimilation process.
Jeff: I knew it would be pretty thorough since when I interviewed for the position, I learned that there was a lot of information and systems to learn to use, and depending on how long it took to pick up on things, training could take months. That told me how serious and committed management is to preparing employees for this type of work.How did the OJT help prepare you to do your job?
Mike: Riding with several different representatives over the duration of the OJT process was the most beneficial and insightful aspect of the training. The mixture of different styles, regions, personalities and flairs for getting the job done was the perfect blend. The trainers selected were very dedicated to giving me the best experience and truly invested in helping me succeed.
Jeff: It served two purposes: to teach the culture of our company and to learn the actual work we do on a daily basis. Having great trainers with varying personalities really helped me understand the details of our job as well as show how service to the customer is so important.What are some unique aspects of Great West’s OJT culture?
Mike: The OJT process allows the trainee to gradually integrate into his or her new role with confidence and feel equipped to begin a full schedule with minimal transition frustration or anxiety. The trainee will be able to start meeting with customers very early on in the process to start fostering the partnerships we pride ourselves in maintaining.
Jeff: Coming from a couple of other employers where the jobs were treated as “turnkey” positions (little to no training), Great West’s OJT is set up to train at the trainee’s pace, without the pressure of shoving new employees out on their own without the necessary understanding of the details of the work. Weekly check-ins with the training department and supervisors, and the other trainer/trainee teams in our department, allow for idea sharing and ways to adapt to the pace of learning. I have not experienced that anywhere else.How is the OJT training program valuable to you?
Mike: It is crucial to make sure every new hire is assimilated into the organization in a manner appropriate for each person. The current program allows the trainee to progress at his or her own pace with the best trainers possible (exemplary fellow representatives). The corporate piece was very important as well to understand how the operation as a whole works and connect names and voices with a face at corporate.
Jeff: It has shaped my daily routines – for both working at home and when we are able to travel – and prepared me to become a trainer for one of our new safety representatives, making a difference in his new career.
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This blog post was created by Megan L., Great West Casualty Company HR Communications Specialist. © Great West Casualty Company 2021. The material in this publication is the property of Great West Casualty Company unless otherwise noted and may not be reproduced without its written consent by any person other than a current insured of Great West Casualty Company for business purposes. Insured should attribute use as follows: “© Great West Casualty Company 2021. Used with permission by Great West Casualty Company.”
This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.