Are you making the most of your Training and Development budget?
We all know that learning development and training budgets are one of the first things to be cut when economic times are tough. In the longer-term though, it’s beneficial to continue to develop your staff so they can improve their performance and remain optimistic about their future with your company.
So are there any practical ways of making your learning development and training budget go just a bit further?
1) Planning and Evaluation – Start by reviewing all your existing programmes for the contribution they are making to current business or organisational goals and then carry out a Training Need Analysis to establish where the real skill gaps are. You’ll then be able to ascertain what training and learning is business critical, what will have a positive impact on the business, what can wait or be taught in-house and what can be dropped.
In increasingly tougher financial times though, organisations will want to know that training provides a good Return on Investment. Providing a strong body of evidence in the form of training evaluation results is therefore essential as by proving a tangible return, you’ll be able to provide a strong case for maintaining (or even increasing) budgets and ensure that future provision is targeted correctly and to maximum effect.
QED has created a new, an innovative evaluation concept that evaluates L&D programmes, functions and business initiatives. Our starting position is to build an evaluation strategy. This means you will be able to stop evaluating everything in order to make sure the evaluation strategy fits the nature and importance of the programmes and initiatives you are delivering. We focus on making sure that the results or decisions needed are created in advance and then how to identify and evaluate the targeted outcome, and where to focus the scarce resources of the L&D department to add the value you need. Evaluation then becomes an informative, insightful and essential part of the learning process that drives change, performance and will secure or improve your training budget.
2) Peer-to-Peer Learning – Another increasing trend is peer-to-peer learning such as mentoring or coaching. This involves flexible direct and personal support from peers via telephone, online or face-to-face. Other employees may have the capacity to become user specialists who can train co-workers on a one-to-one basis in certain tools and functions such as Excel.
3) Learner Experience – Think carefully about the match of content, methods, and skill acquisition expected and then work to find the learning experience best suited to your staff, organisational resources, and learning plan. QED has developed several options to help learning and development professionals make the most of their budget. By using our extensive experience of training and developing managers and leaders, we have identified the critical knowledge and skills that manager’s need to perform effectively in today’s marketplace.
The ‘Learner Centric’ process separates out the knowledge and skills acquisition so that the individual becomes directly responsible for gathering the knowledge they need. They then attend a highly experiential workshop where they will be expected to demonstrate their knowledge through experiential learning activities. The process has proven to be half the cost of traditional training (in a like for like comparison based on training 30 managers in 6 core management skills modules).
Another option is Bite-sized workshops which use an interactive and participative approach to deliver ‘bite size’ two-hour workshops that inspire, engage and energise participants to use their learning as soon as they get back to work. By focusing on the key learning points for each topic, effective tips, tools and ideas that improve performance can be delivered quickly
Bite-sized training is highly flexible and covers a wide range of subject areas. You could choose a workshop to meet a specific need, add workshops together in a modular format to provide an on-going learning programme or use key workshops to support a conference or team building event.
Low tech, inexpensive learning options can sometimes fulfil training needs – books, instructional CD’s and DVD’s are available on a huge range of subjects and may be useful for self-directed learners or learning one aspect of a complex skill. Attendance at local professional organisation meetings can help to keep an employees knowledge of their field up-to-date and also help raise your organisation’s presence in the community.
4) Online Training – The flexibility to offer training anywhere at anytime, to allow people to work at their own pace and to reduce training budgets means it has been embraced by a large number of organisations. However, some consideration should be given to whether online training is appropriate for certain topics or if it is best for everyone. Some delegates find that they miss sharing ideas and questions face-to-face, as in classroom style training.
Tools such as webinars and live Q&A feeds can therefore be useful as they recreate the interactive element of classroom learning, without the cost and time needed to travel. They offer a good middle way between online and classroom training; they are more personal than online courses and are often live. There is also the added bonus that they can be viewed repeatedly and made accessible to other learners.
Social networking and connectivity makes it so much easier to share knowledge informally. This can be facilitated through a secure network within the intranet, or a group set up within Facebook or Linkedin.
5) Manage Provision – If your training budget includes employee costs, then it might be more cost-effective to use an external training provider who could design a completely be-spoke programme that addresses the specific learning needs, problems, and challenges that your organisation faces. Training your staff together provides the opportunity for employees to get to know each other better and gives you more control over the schedule so you can avoid losing employees to training during busy periods. There is also the opportunity to negotiate deals and discounts based on the number of courses delivered, the number of delegates attending and successful completion.
Hopefully some of these ideas will prove useful when trying to make your training budget go further. If you need to talk through any aspect of your training and development requirements then please contact QED. We’ll be happy to discuss how we can work with you to develop cost-effective training options that meet your business needs.