How-To: Make The Most of Your Learning and Development Budget
Many medium and large organisations invest anywhere from 2-5% of their salary budgets back into training.
You might use different techniques to create your budget - Our last How-To blog post was all about how to create a learning and development budget, so be sure to utilise this. Wherever you get your learning and development budget from, do you know how to make it go as far as it can?
If you create learning and development budgets, read on to investigate how to make it stretch the furthest this year.
Look At Your Training Needs
Before carrying out any of the below steps, assess the training needs of your business so you know what your training objectives are (Use this link to create effective objectives).
Discuss with your HR team what they believe the most important training objectives are. If there’s a certain skill deficit that’s affecting the productivity of your employees, aim for an objective that’s focused on this skill. This will help you strategically allocate training funds where they’re needed most, and not waste them on box-ticking exercises.
This will also enable you to have full support from your HR team, as they’ll back your training objectives and programs. Their assistance will be very useful when you’re trying to justify uses for your CPD budget.
Adapt Your Training Delivery Method
Different employee training methods have rather different costs. For instance, ebooks may have quite a large initial fee, but you don’t have to repeatedly pay instructor fees as you can simply rely on this as a reusable resource. You also don’t need to pay material costs, like you would for worksheets or classroom locations for in-person training sessions.
The same is true for video tutorials, which can form an innovative video library on your website or intranet, to be available on-demand whenever you need your employees to access them. You can pay an instructor for one day’s work, and use a recording of their training session for years after it’s taken place.
For such videos (which we recommend over ebooks as knowledge retention is much better for videos compared to text content), we’ve discussed in a previous article that you should probably hire an external team to produce them, as it can save costs. However, feel free to read our article about this to weigh up the pros and cons of using this compared to an in-house team.
However, there are great ways to look at how your in-house assets can work for your budget.
Ongoing training is just as important to consider as other training costs. You want to avoid continuously paying instructors to return to your company to deliver ongoing training, or being ripped off by an external training provider offering you unnecessary services. You could train one or two employees in the confidence and communication skills that they need to train the rest of their team, which can also improve their skills as training others is a great way to practice. After this, you just need to sort out assessing their skills. You could also cross-train junior employees, so that each staff member can, at some point, work in front of someone else that can shadow them. Therefore, instead of employees taking profitable time away from the workplace to complete external training, they can complete it on-the-job.
To go one step further, you could expand this into a mentoring program. As well as negating your need to consistently hire external trainers, this mentoring program can be embedded into your company culture. Your employees will be used to teamwork and helping each other learn. Also, mentoring programs help to increase accountability in your company. Everyone is responsible for helping each other and ensuring that their work is good enough quality to be shadowed.
These can even be provided in an informal way, so that you give your employees the freedom to train each other in their own time and in their own flexible way, and it does not seem like just giving your people extra responsibilities. The end goal here isn’t to pass the buck over to your employees, but to help make training more democratic and self-sufficient within your organisation.
And if employees are unwilling or unable to take time out to mentor each other, you still have the previously produced training videos to rely upon as a backup, as another internal resource.
If you are looking at external training providers, you need to audit their online reviews so you don’t pick one that provides unnecessary costs. There are many training providers that will offer a volume discount if you enrol a large amount of people on their course. Therefore, get your sign-ups high by letting learners know that costs will be lower for them (as it is for you) if enough people sign up.
Training is key for employee retention. You can take advantage of this using a technique introduced by efront: request that employees commit to working for you for a specific amount of time after they’ve completed the training, and if they cannot fulfil this then there should be a reimbursement clause in their employment contract incorporated by the HR team.
Remember, it’s worth spending slightly more on CPD budgets that you’re confident will resonate with your learners. One sure-fire way to lose money is by losing employees that have resigned due to not receiving sufficient training, so use the above techniques conscientiously.