January 17, 2024

February 28, 2024

The Synergy of Job Shadowing and Digital Training

Traditional job shadowing, a method where a trainee learns by observing and assisting an experienced employee, has long been the cornerstone of hands-on training. It offers the invaluable opportunity to gain practical insights and understand the nuances of a specific role. However, with technological advancements, digital training methods, like always-on video training, have emerged as powerful tools in the learning and development landscape.

No single training approach perfectly fits every organization, yet certain methods are more effective than others. Interestingly, 70% of learning leaders agree that employing multiple training approaches is essential. It's important to consider employees' preferred learning styles, with 58% favoring self-paced learning. However, accommodating these preferences can be impractical for organizations grappling with challenges like high employee turnover, intense competition in a global market, and strict industry regulations. Despite these obstacles, there are tools and strategies available that can optimize the learning process to benefit both employees and the organization.

Advantages of Job Shadowing

Hands-on experience and real-time problem-solving are integral aspects of effective training. Through job shadowing, trainees have the opportunity to observe and engage with challenges as they unfold, gaining valuable practical skills that are hard to emulate in a traditional classroom setting. This approach allows them to understand the intricacies of handling real-world situations, which is crucial for their professional development. Additionally, the ability to personalize training to fit specific job roles is a significant advantage. Each training session can be customized to address the unique demands and nuances of different roles, offering a learning experience that is much more targeted and relevant. This tailored approach ensures that trainees receive instruction that is directly applicable to their specific responsibilities, leading to more effective and efficient skill development.

Job shadowing brings a range of benefits to the training process:

  • Hands-on Experience and Real-time Problem-solving: Trainees witness first-hand how challenges are addressed, gaining practical skills that are difficult to replicate in a classroom setting.
  • Personalized Training and Adaptation to Specific Job Roles: Each session can be tailored to suit the unique requirements of a job role, providing a more focused learning experience.

Challenges in Work Environments

The logistics of training large teams through job shadowing present significant challenges. For one, accommodating big groups in a job shadowing scenario is often impractical, if not impossible, due to the personalized and one-on-one nature of this training method. Additionally, the variability in shifts and working hours complicates the process even further. Aligning the schedules of trainers and trainees not only becomes a logistical nightmare but also pulls your most skilled employees away from their primary responsibilities, affecting overall productivity. Furthermore, job shadowing heavily relies on the availability of skilled trainers and experts. This dependence can lead to bottlenecks in training delivery, especially in scenarios where such experienced personnel are limited or have other critical duties to attend to. These constraints highlight the need for more flexible and scalable training solutions.

Despite its benefits, job shadowing faces several challenges in fast-paced work environments:

  • Scale of Training Required for Large Teams: Training large groups through job shadowing is often impractical.
  • Variability in Shifts and Working Hours: Aligning the schedules of trainers and trainees can be a logistical nightmare, and take your most skilled employees away from their responsibilities.
  • Availability of Skilled Trainers and Experts: The dependence on experienced personnel can create bottlenecks in training delivery.

Limitations of Job Shadowing

Job shadowing, while valuable, comes with its own set of challenges. It is notably resource-intensive, demanding considerable time and attention from skilled staff, which can sometimes impact overall productivity. Another issue is the inconsistency in training quality. Since this method relies heavily on the skills and techniques of individual trainers, it can result in varied training experiences for different employees. This variability poses a significant challenge in maintaining a consistent standard of training. Additionally, ensuring uniformity in the quality and content of training across various shifts and locations is a complex task. The diverse environments and differing schedules often make it difficult to standardize training experiences, leading to discrepancies in the knowledge and skills acquired by employees in different areas of the organization.

Several limitations impact the effectiveness of job shadowing:

  • Resource-intensive: It requires significant time and attention from skilled staff, potentially impacting productivity.
  • Inconsistency in Training Quality: Variability in trainers’ skills and methods can lead to uneven training experiences.
  • Difficulties in Standardizing Training: Standardizing the quality and content of training across different shifts and locations is challenging.

Benefits of Always-On Video Training

Digital training methods stand out for their ability to efficiently scale to the needs of a growing and diverse workforce. By enabling simultaneous training of a vast number of employees, digital platforms offer a level of scalability that traditional methods struggle to match. They ensure a consistent training experience through standardized modules, guaranteeing that every employee, regardless of their location or shift, receives the same high-quality training. This uniformity is crucial in maintaining a standard level of expertise across the entire organization. Moreover, the around-the-clock availability of digital resources accommodates the varying schedules of a diverse workforce, ensuring that all employees, no matter their shift or location, have equal access to crucial training and expertise.

Digital training methods address many of these limitations:


Integrating Digital Training with Traditional Methods

Blending different learning methodologies is key to creating an effective and dynamic training program. Blended learning approaches combine the best of both worlds: digital content and hands-on experiences. Merging interactive, digital learning tools with traditional job shadowing can enrich the training experience. By doing so, employees not only gain the flexibility of learning at their own pace through videos and digital modules but also benefit from the practical insights and personalized guidance that job shadowing offers. 

  • Blended Learning Approaches: Combining digital content with hands-on job shadowing creates a comprehensive learning experience, allowing employees to see the same process in a variety of ways. Video particularly allows an employee to rewatch a process multiple times, either to learn it from beginning to end or refresh on a process when necessary. 
  • Using Job Shadowing for Specialized, Role-Specific Training: Employing job shadowing for complex or nuanced tasks complements digital learning.
  • Enhancing Digital Training with Real-World Examples and Mentorship: Integrating mentorship and practical examples into digital training bridges the gap between theory and practice.


Real-World Example: ISAIC

A growing number of organizations are recognizing the benefits of blending digital and traditional training methods to enhance employee development. An exemplary case is ISAIC, the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center, a nonprofit organization based in Detroit. ISAIC operates with a mission to revolutionize the future of work in the soft goods manufacturing sector. They emphasize training individuals in advanced and emerging manufacturing technologies, ensuring that their workforce is at the cutting edge of sustainable production practices.

To improve their training processes, ISAIC implemented DeepHow, an innovative digital training platform. This integration marked a significant advancement in their training approach. By leveraging DeepHow's capabilities, ISAIC successfully streamlined their onboarding and training procedures. One of the most notable achievements was a reduction of over 60% in the time required for onboarding and training new employees. This efficiency gain not only accelerated the process of integrating new team members into their roles but also ensured that training was consistent and of high quality across the board.

DeepHow's technology enabled ISAIC to standardize their training processes, ensuring that every employee, regardless of their starting skill level or background, received the same comprehensive training. This standardization was crucial for maintaining a high level of operational excellence and consistency in production quality. The platform's ability to blend hands-on training with interactive digital content meant that employees could benefit from practical, real-world examples while also having access to engaging and informative digital resources. This holistic approach to training has positioned ISAIC as a forward-thinking organization, setting a precedent in the integration of digital and traditional training methods for the betterment of their workforce.



Job shadowing, with its unique ability to provide hands-on experience and personalized training, remains an invaluable part of the learning process. However, its limitations in terms of scalability, consistency, and resource intensity highlight the need for more adaptable solutions. This is where digital training methods, particularly always-on video training, come into play. They offer scalability, consistency, and accessibility, addressing many of the challenges faced by traditional training approaches.

The blending of digital and traditional training methods, as seen in the example of ISAIC and their use of DeepHow, demonstrates a successful hybrid approach. This strategy not only maximizes the strengths of each method but also creates a more dynamic, flexible, and comprehensive training environment. It caters to different learning styles and operational needs, ensuring a high standard of training across the board.

Organizations aiming to stay competitive and effective in their training programs should consider adopting a similar blended approach. By combining the real-world, personalized experiences of job shadowing with the efficiency and reach of digital training, they can create a robust learning environment. This not only enhances employee skills and knowledge but also contributes to the overall growth and adaptability of the organization in a rapidly evolving work landscape.

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