Knowledge Sharing

5 Ways job shadowing can benefit your workplace

Here are 5 ways to use job shadowing in your organization.

Jon Morgan

August 16, 2022

Any organization looking to retain and attract quality employees has to invest in various forms of training opportunities. Job shadowing is one of the most affordable and efficient forms. The job shadowing process provides opportunities for employees to learn from the skilled professional in the same organization for a specific period. This is, in most cases, at no additional cost. 

But there can be more job shadowing benefits to your workplace besides affordability and efficiency. 

Read on to learn all about them:

What is job shadowing?

Job shadowing is a form of training that sees an employee following another closely in their day-to-day activities in the workplace. The goal of the employee observing their colleague, usually a senior employee, is to see how the latter performs their role. That, in essence, gives the observer an idea of the skills needed to perform that specific role, the processes that need to be followed, among other things. 

Job shadowing allows your employees to explore various career opportunities in the workplace, which is crucial for career advancement and employee engagement. They can essentially explore these options without taking them on. 

1. It helps ensure employee engagement and satisfaction

Through observation, your employees can understand what a specific job role entails, its professional experience requirements, and the job description. Then they can decide whether it’s a path they want to pursue through a career goals discovery processes like career pathing

Career pathing allows your employees to map out their future in an organization. Knowing they have a future in the company ensures employee satisfaction. Here is an excellent example of career pathing.

Graphic illustrating the career ladder.
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Your role as the leader when it comes to employee career pathing is ensuring each job position’s requirements are easily accessible. Job shadowing programs are where employees can learn these details. This firsthand experience offers more details than random job descriptions.

2. It helps provide a better understanding of the organization

As a leader, you want employees to support and value your organization. When employees value your organization, they’ll be more than happy to work towards the achievement of its goals. That leads to business success and growth. You can see this homepage for more insights on business success. 

But it’s difficult to value something if you don’t understand it. That’s why your employees need to understand crucial organizational details. If you are looking for an easy way to help your employees understand your organization better, then giving them job shadowing opportunities is the way to do it. 

Job shadowing helps employees better understand the organization by giving them a deeper look at the company culture and work environment. When they get a closer look at the workplace’s positive values, they’ll feel thankful they’re part of the organization. That can give them even more motivation to work. 

Example of an org chart.
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You can help job shadowers better understand the organizational structure during the job shadowing process by showing them a simple organizational chart. That should complement the job shadowing experience.

3. It helps equip employees with skills

There’s so much employees can learn from coworkers, especially those in the advanced levels of their careers. Job shadowing helps provide employees with the golden opportunity to understand what makes these professionals the best. That can set the stage for them to be the best as well. With the best talent on board, the workplace can better achieve its goals.

Shadows can observe the specialized skills job shadowing hosts have perfected to ensure good performance and success rates in their roles. Your job shadowing program can therefore serve as a training program. 

Through observation, the shadows can pick up these specialized skills on their own. For instance, if a marketing assistant is shadowing an HR manager, they can learn how to create good job descriptions.  

Usually, it would be easy for the shadow to feel like a bother asking random questions about the job shadowing host's role. You could create a job shadowing questionnaire for the shadows to use to ensure they get the most out of the experience. 

Here is a good example:

Examples of job shadowing questions.
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Remind the shadows to ask questions in priority order. They should save the sensitive question for when they have broken the rapport with their job shadowing host. 

Job shadowing also benefits workplaces by providing opportunities for employees to pick up practical skills, whether they are shadowing in a field they will be interested in venturing into in the future or not. 

These practical skills are easy to retain with hands-on training. Even if the shadows are not the ones actually performing the job, they can see how theory translates into action through the hosts. You can see how these practical skills are showcased in different situations. 

It’s always a good thing if your employees pick up practical skills even if they don’t seem relevant at the moment. For a marketing assistant, the interpersonal and communication skills they get from shadowing a customer care executive may not seem valuable at that point in time. But these are skills that can come in handy in the future. 

As they spend more time in the organization, they are more likely to take on more responsibilities. For instance, somewhere down the road, they might have to present proposed marketing strategies to management where the practical skills of interpersonal relations and communication come in handy. 

4. It allows for better synergy among departments

Job shadowing also presents excellent networking opportunities. This is because there are various job shadowing host possibilities in the workplace. They range in job titles and levels, from C-suite executives to managers and more. Improved networking opportunities can break down interdepartmental barriers and possible barriers across career ladders. That can help ensure all departments work better together towards the same team and business goals.

There are different career leveling systems. Here is one:

Sample career ladders with a global job levelling system.
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Through job shadowing, your employees can forge valuable relationships with people at various job levels. These relationships could also grow into an impactful mentorship program, where these networks offer excellent career advice and support to help build or further their careers. This guides them toward making the right choices in their career paths, which can ultimately benefit the workplace.

5. It helps boost productivity 

Ultimately, job shadowing benefits the entire workplace’s productivity.

When employees understand how different departments work, they can communicate better and work better together towards the achievement of departmental goals. In addition, the interactions and networks made during job shadowing may lead to better ideas for your office environment. 

For instance, an idea exchange could encourage using work management software for better integration and communication between departments. You could also decide to use online tools accessible to everyone to plan your shift easily and align work schedules across departments. All these ensure better productivity.

Finally, job shadowing allows people in the workplace to determine what their real passion is. With people working in roles they are passionate about, the company again benefits because of increased productivity.

In Closing

Job shadowing is one of the organizations' most effective forms of in-house training. A job shadowing program encourages a peer mentoring system, which has proven beneficial in workplaces. This article discusses some of these job shadowing benefits.

Job shadowing helps ensure employee satisfaction and engagement. In addition, a good job shadowing experience helps provide employees with a better understanding of the organization. With that better understanding, employees will gladly work towards the achievement of the business’ goals. 

The other benefits of job shadowing include ensuring employees learn specialized skills from seasoned co-workers and pick up practical skills, which can help ensure better talent for the workplace. It also allows for valuable networking opportunities, which facilitates synergy. A job shadowing program can also help increase workplace productivity.

Create an excellent job shadowing program and enjoy these job shadowing benefits in your workplace.


Author bio: Jon Morgan

Jon is the founder of two successful e-commerce and SaaS businesses. He's passionate about sharing what he has learned from working with business owners through Venture Smarter.

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