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Create a Job Aid in Six Simple Steps

Employee Training & Resources



Create a Job Aid in Six Simple Steps



Subject Matter Experts

Processes or Skills


How & Where to Use

Plan How to Create

That's a Wrap!







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What is a job aid?

A job aid is just any kind of reference that's used in the flow of work – that is when and where people are doing their jobs.A Job aid is a great tool because it reduces cognitive load.

Think about a training experience that pull people out of the flow of work. Example if you are working on a sales floor, and you have to leave the sales floor for an hour to take training on customer service. This training taking you out of the flow of work. A job aid is very different in the fact that it allows you to learn while you're doing the job.A job aid comes in a lot of different formats, for example:

  • PDF
  • video tutorial
  • interactive help guide
  • decision tree
  • checklist
  • sticky note
A job aid is basically anything that helps you do the job while in the flow of work.

Learn more about cognitive load

Step One

Identify Your Audience

The most important part is figuring out who's going to use this job aid where are they going to use it. Once you identify who and when, developing your job aid and whatever tool you choose to create it will be easy.

Step Two

Identify the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

Ask yourself:

  • Who performs this process the best?
  • Who owns the process?
  • Is there anyone else to consult?

Identitify the subject matter expert (SME) or the people who perform the process the best. This is generally a person on the front line, skilled at the process who can help you develop the job aid. Oftentimes, these people have found a better way to do the process because people who are really good at their jobs always find ways to make it faster or more efficient. In general that's where you're going to find the most value in your job aids where you can take the institutional knowledge that benefits one employee and use it to benefit everyone in the company.NOTE: SMEs will change based on the type of skill needed for the job aid. It’s always good practice to defer to the expertise of the people who are do the job every day and do it very well. Next, identify who is responsible for making sure everybody does this correctly such as a department manager or the business owner if a small company. This is the person who owns the process.Finally, determine anyone else you may need to consult before you get started creating this job aid.

Step Three

Sort out if the process or skill needs to be memorized. Anything that people need to memorize where they won’t have time to look up at a job aid such as in emergent situations, are best taught through a different training method such as drilling. The ones that don’t require memorization are the best for job aids.

Identify the Process or Skills

Step Four

Identify the Steps

  • Chunk the process into small steps.
  • Then organize the steps in order of which need to be completed first, second, third, etc.
  • These will be sections of the job aid, like chapters in a book.

When working with SMEs, keep in mind that they perform the skill all the time and may tend to omit simple steps that are intuitive to them. When you start identifying these steps you will identify the parts that are a little bit harder and may need more clarification or information in the job aid for someone just learning the skill.

Step Five

Identify How and Where Employees Will Use the Job Aid

Think about: when might people need the job aid and where they might need it. This is another important step because - for it to be a good tool used in the flow of work, it will need to be located where it is easily accessible.

The best placement for a job aid is something that is simple but sometimes gets overlooked.

The best placement or physical location is where it is accessible for everyone whether they are trained.

Think about the best format. How will people access the job aid? Should it be a paper printout? Or should it be a digital resource they can use a computer like a video or interactive guide?

Consider the technical skills of the audience. The best format may be print if the person is not computer savvy (digital literacy level), and especially if they are new to the company and not familiar with where to find the digital job aid.

A job aid can be both print and digital. Putting things in more than one format so people have a choice in how they want to access it.



Step Six

Plan How to Create the Job Aid

Ask yourself: What tools and resources will be needed to develop this job aid?This may be the easiest step because all the heavy lifting has been done in the previous steps.

Brainstorm the tools and resources you will need to develop the job aid. You’ll need to consider the chosen format – both print and digital. Tools you will need for a printed job aid include

  • printer
  • paper
  • software:
    • JamBoard or Canva (free tools)
    • Microsoft word or Adobe if your organization has the license
Also think about resources such as people who will serve as:
  • Editors:
    • will do a final proofread to test clarity and language.
  • Testers:
    • will test the job aid and provide feedback on what makes sense and what doesn’t so you can refine it to make sure it will work for everyone.

With careful planning and collaboration, you are sure to create a job aid that is useful, accessible, and helps employees do their job while in the flow of work.Happy creating!

It's a Wrap!

Now You Know the Six Simple Steps to Create a Job Aid

The more you can help employees to where they don't have to memorize things the less cognitive load they're going to have.

Short-term memory is very limited there's only so much stuff you can hold in there and it's pretty time constrained you can't remember stuff in short-term memory for very long A job aid takes some of that cognitive load and offloads it onto a tool such as a PDF file or a video where people can reference information when they need it while they work. It reduces the amount of information they have to memorize.

The amount of information you can hold in short-term memory!

Cognitive Load