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Rebecca Lane

By: Rebecca Lane on April 13th, 2024

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Job Aids vs Training Guides: When to Use Each

Have you ever tried to dump a gallon of water quickly into a funnel? It doesn’t work. It is too much water all at once. You have to take your time. 

It’s the same with training. Your employees can only take on so much learning all at once. Just as you need to slowly fill your funnel with water to fill a narrow canister, you also need to slowly feed your employees new knowledge.

But, you don’t have time for that! I know. Working for ScreenSteps — a knowledge base and training software company — I understand the pressure most industries are under to quickly train new employees. 

Luckily, that’s where training guides and job aids come in. Both job aids and training guides are instructional sheets, but they are used for different purposes and in different situations.

In this article, I compare the differences and when you should use each. That way, you can decide which resources you need to create to support your employees.

What is a job aid?

A job aid is a resource that helps employees do something on the job. It helps your employees complete tasks without needing to ask a co-worker or supervisor for help. 

These job aids are used while employees are on the job. They pull these resources up when they have questions or need a reminder on what to do.

Employees use job aids in the moment. A job aid prompts employees on what to do and when to do it. It alleviates the pressure to memorize every detail during training.

It is just-in-time learning or a continuous learning resource.

Job aids are a resource for transferring actionable knowledge.

Alternative names for job aids

Where and when do you use a job aid?

Job aids are used as employee support materials. This means employees use job aids whenever they need assistance, which is typically when they need to handle a task on their own while at work.

Additionally, you can use job aids during training. The purpose of using job aids during training is to give new hires hands-on experience using the resources they will use on the job. 

Credit Union Job Aid Template

Job aid example

A job aid is a prompt or reminder for your employees. It helps them recall the information they learned during training. It also helps them avoid making mistakes. 

The job aid below is a checklist example of how a sales associate would qualify a lead. 

Business Sales SOP example for qualifying a lead

What is a training guide?

A training guide is an instructional sheet or packet that is used during employee onboarding and training. Essentially, it is a training manual. It is a collection of information that is meant to be read one time during training.

Often, trainers look at classroom training and the training guide as the one opportunity that they will have to teach the new hires everything they need to know about the company and their jobs. 

These guides are very detailed and comprehensive.

Where and when do you use a training guide?

Training guides are created specifically for employee onboarding and training. They are only used in training. 

Training guides are a form of foundational knowledge. However, many training guides make the mistake of including actionable knowledge in the guide.

Training guides are often an overwhelming foundational knowledge resource. It is a lot of information for new hires to read and memorize in a short amount of time.

Learn how to make foundational courses that split your training into more digestible learning segments with this on-demand webinar.

Training guide example

Training guides are typically lengthy texts. It can be a printed or digital manual. 

The example below shows a digital manual for onboarding. The manual includes articles for everything a new hire needs to know about onboarding.

Onboarding guides example

How do they work together?

There are many ways to train and support employees. Training guides and job aids complement each other and provide a complete training experience. 

Training guides are used to lay the foundation with background information so that employees. That way, employees have context for following the job aids once they start in the office.

Once employees have the foundational knowledge, they are prepared to use the job aids. Those job aids contain much of the same information as a training guide except in a more actionable format.

Create job aids that provide employees support when they need it

Use job aids to set your employees up for success. While it can be intimidating to start writing job aids, they benefit your employees in the end.

With ScreenSteps, you can create a variety of different job aids. These job aids — also known as digital guides — are interactive, so they can help employees avoid mistakes and learn on the job.

Plus, you can use these job aids in training. By using your ScreenSteps articles in training, you help employees become more knowledgeable, consistent, and efficient in 30 days or less.

Ready to write a job aid for your business?

Download our free digital guide template packet. The packet includes five different examples and templates. These include job aids such as checklists, decision trees, and more.

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About Rebecca Lane

Content Marketing Manager