Benefits of Job Shadowing
By assigning your new employees to follow around a veteran employee—without actually doing any work on his own—you give that employee the best possible start he can have on his new job. You get to choose which employees demonstrate their skills for the newbies. You control the information that is taught.
Written procedures that seem obscure to someone new become clear when they are demonstrated by a veteran. You’ll have a better handle on just what is taught. Your demonstrator can communicate and even document whether new information is being assimilated.
Establish the length of time that your new employee will shadow the demonstrator based on the type and complexity of the work being demonstrated. A minimum stint of two days is recommended, and in some situations (such as our drug rehab center, where client personalities play a role) the shadowing can last as long as a week.
Sometimes it works best to have the employee shadow the demonstrator for a day, then spend a day working on his own, and then return to the demonstrator to dissect how he applied what he learned. Some employers have two new employees shadow one veteran for, say, a half shift. Then the new employees work together for the rest of the shift, discussing what they learned. The next day, they meet with the veteran again for more discussion.
Job shadowing costs your company no money other than the time your new employee spends in his orientation. This technique requires no investment in contracting outside experts.
It also boosts employee morale and performance. The veteran employees assigned as demonstrators strive for excellence because they are proud of being chosen. Other employees are motivated to attain the skills that will earn them the status of demonstrator.