As training budgets get squeezed, you have to come up with ever more creative ways to develop your workforce and improve productivity. Our Technical Specialist, Catherine Gallagher, is a former Learning and Development Manager and here looks at seven ways to make sure you’re using your training budget as effectively as possible.
1. Target training where it’s needed most
Start by reviewing all the existing programmes you have in place. This will enable you to pinpoint where the real skills gaps are and ensure your budget is allocated to those areas that require the most attention.
Can some external training be done in-house, or can some be dropped altogether? If you can show that training provides a good return on investment, there’s a strong case for it to continue.
2. Show people how training will benefit them
Training is a good thing. You know that, but employees don’t always understand why they’re being asked to take time out from their day-to-day activities to attend a training session. They have to buy into the idea.
You’re more likely to see value for money if staff are fully engaged in the process and appreciate how it’s going to aid their personal development, whether it’s a reduction in stress, a better relationship with their colleagues or being more productive.
3. Adopt a ‘blended learning’ approach
Classroom learning can be combined with online training to provide a cost-effective and balanced programme of L&D. Online tools such as webinars and live Q&A events can reduce some of the costs involved with travelling, and give staff the flexibility to train from anywhere.
Free apps, games and social media sites can also make learning fun and engaging. For many professions, face-to-face training is still critical though, so it’s important to still retain an element of instructor-led teaching.
4. Use bite-sized workshops
For those who need a quick refresher or intensive training session, ‘bite size’ 90-minute or two-hour workshops can inspire and re-energise employees to use their learning as soon as they get back to work. Bite-sized training is highly focused and flexible and covers a wide range of subjects, from how to be resilient to how to write better emails.Workshops can be held over the web or at your offices at a time to suit your team.
5. Don’t neglect on-the-job training
Unstructured training, or informal learning, is often free or costs very little. Coaching, job shadowing and mentoring on an ad-hoc basis shouldn’t be overlooked. If a member of your workforce has vital skills that can be of benefit, be sure to make the most of them so they can share their knowledge with other employees.
6. Address scarce skills in your sector
By understanding which skills are needed most in your industry, you can prioritise which should be addressed first. If you equip an employee with skills that can’t be widely found externally or are very costly to recruit from outside, you’ll be making a valuable investment in your business.
7. Partner with an external provider
To make every penny count, why not outsource to a specialist training company that will take time to understand your training needs to help bring about positive change? They’ll have access to the most up-to-date tools, information and courses, and possess the relevant skills to maximise the potential of your workforce.
Partner with a company that can provide multiple options, including face-to-face sessions as well as online courses to support staff in distant locations to make the best use of time and money.