Job-Shadowing: Bringing Hands-On Training to Light

By Bob Nelson

Job-shadowing (having one person follow another around in his or her job) offers employees experiential, hands-on learning opportunities, and Millennials have a special affinity for it. Shadowing affords a current or prospective employee the chance to be immersed in the actual job environment, making it possible to see an experienced worker apply the skills and traits needed to accomplish the work.

An insightful observer can glean information about the personal characteristics that contribute to success in the position.

Some employers prefer to orient new employees before involving them in job-shadowing to build on the new employee’s existing knowledge of the company. Post-orientation job-shadowing can reinforce loyalty, strengthen the orientation (or “onboarding”) process by which Millennials integrate into the company and their jobs, and shorten the time it takes a new hire to get up to speed.

Pamela Genske, human resources director for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, says her firm’s employees learn about shadowing opportunities in orientation and can ask for a shadowing assignment any time after joining the company. “People remember what happens in situations they’ve been placed in much more effectively than they recall a theory they’ve been taught in a classroom,” says Genske. The Indiana Department of Corrections and the YMCA are other organizations that offer job-shadowing.