Have you ever assembled a piece of furniture from IKEA? Or perhaps you put together a toy at Christmas? Or maybe you had to clear a paper jam in the printer, but forgot how to do it? Whether it was one of these situations or something else, you probably have used a job aid. It is a document or tutorial designed to give you just enough information to get a specific task accomplished, at the moment it needs to be done. Once you start looking, you’ll see them everywhere.
What you may not have known is that Instructional Designers are experts at creating job aids. It’s another learning deliverable, just like creating a training course. Sometimes they are used along with a training course as supplemental material. Sometimes they stand on their own.
Types of Job Aids
There are several types of job aids including:
- Step-by-Step: These job aids give step-by-step instructions on how to perform a task.
- Worksheets: These work well when there are calculations involved. Responses are recorded, and information to complete a task is generated based on formulas.
- Checklists: Checklists are great if items can be completed in any order. They are also helpful in maintaining consistency.
- Decision Tree: When there are limited options with each decision, a decision tree can guide an employee in making the correct choice based upon their input.
- Flow Chart: Flow charts work well as troubleshooting guides.
- Reference List: This type of job aid is good when a task requires data, as opposed to a set of steps.
When to Use Job Aids
Job aids are best used when trying to remember how to do something you’ve already learned how to do, or doing a task you know in a new or unique situation. They also work well when troubleshooting, or solving a problem. Also, they are helpful in situations where you’ve been trained on a process, but one aspect of the routine has been changed.
Job aids speed up work by reducing hesitancy, and the opportunity for making errors. They essentially coach the user along the way, increasing consistency of performance. They allow employees to focus on one step at a time, making the task seem less complex than it is.
When NOT to Use Job Aids
Job aids are not a good fit if you’re trying to learn something brand new for the first time, especially on an unfamiliar topic. They also aren’t that great at teaching conceptual knowledge, or taking learning to a deeper level. Finally, they should not be used to replace an entire training course. They should be viewed as supplemental material, not the main event.