Job Shadowing to Become a Better Coworker

Often associated with new hires, job shadowing can be equally valuable to current employees to provide a broader knowledge of various jobs and functions within their organization.

Although job shadowing has proven its value to organizations of all sizes and scopes, the practice is commonly applied by only 31 percent of global corporations, according to recent research. But this percentage is expected to increase, as the economy improves and companies begin hiring again and/or restructuring for enhanced efficiency.

  • Among companies that have downsized or completed hiring freezes, many workers have had to assume additional duties. Three-fourths of research study participants agreed that shadowing is an effective way for such employees to develop necessary new skills.
  • There is growing interest in leadership and high-potential employee development. Shadowing facilitates succession planning, according to two-thirds of participants. And, nearly 90 percent agreed that shadowing is a good way to provide employees with a better understanding of their workplace.

Additional Benefits of Job Shadowing
Managed well, job shadowing is a powerful component of your on-the-job training program. Additional benefits include:

  • Employee retention: More than half of research study respondents viewed shadowing as useful for this critical purpose. Fourteen percent of companies who do not currently have shadowing programs plan to implement them within the next two years.
  • Effective job transfers and promotions: Shadowing allows employees to “look before they leap” into a new position, to ensure it will be a good fit. It is essentially a trial period, providing insight into the challenges posed by a new job as they explore potential career paths within the organization.
  • Enhanced morale: Job shadowing contributes to team cohesiveness, as employees are paired with or select coworkers as partners. The practice promotes collaboration, communication, and better relationships with peers – and possibly customers and vendors, as well.

Job Shadowing Best Practices
Job shadowing is most effective in situations where seeing and experiencing a job is more graphic than simply hearing about it in a job description or conversation. Here are some guidelines for making your shadowing program as robust as possible:

  • Function determines form. Don’t implement a program until you know what your organization wants to get out of it. For instance, is the purpose more enriching employee development, succession planning, or improved engagement?
  • Structure the schedule. For instance, include a tour of the department or work area and an opportunity for discussions of job responsibilities. And, include a debriefing session.
  • Follow up with participants. There’s no better way to test program effectiveness – and this practice has the added benefit of building employee ownership and empowerment.

Not surprisingly, high-performing organizations are more organized in structuring their job shadowing programs. For example, 50 percent of high performers reported that they follow up with program participants, compared with only 23 percent of lower performers. And, 41 percent of high performers allow participants to shadow only their strongest employees, but only 9 percent of lower performers do the same.

To ensure that your company is performing at its optimal level of productivity and success, you may want to include a job shadowing program in your plans for the New Year ahead. To learn more about this and other innovative HR techniques and practices, contact the expert team at PrideStaff Modesto today.

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