Wednesday, 29 July 2009

How to… maximise your training budgets

Our inspiration for today’s article was taken from the July issue of People Management magazine.

Charles Gould, managing director of workplace e-learning specialist Brightwave, outlined that cutting costs doesn't necessarily mean stopping staff development and encourages employers to be smarter with how they spend. He goes on saying that, during recessions, it can be tempting to treat training as dispensable expenditure. However, a recent CIPD survey found that the average annual spend per employee on training has already dropped from £300 to £220. But simply cutting training budgets can be dangerous – instead, take the opportunity to work smarter.

We have taken some of the best hints and tips and reproduced them here for you.

1 – Prioritise training needs
First, identify and focus on the mission-critical training requirements in your organisation. These may include business-generating training on new products and sales skills. Legal compliance also cannot be neglected. Your organisation will be focused on business-critical issues more than ever, so your training needs to be too.

2 – Don’t ‘sheep dip’
Stop and think about the real skill gaps. What does each person really need to do his or her job? Tailor your training to support real performance needs. If you don’t, you risk throwing away your training budget unnecessarily.

3 – Outsource expediently
Don’t ignore the skills of your in-house learning and development team. With the right coaching and tools, they can play a valuable part in co-ordinating external suppliers with internal business sponsors, and bring their knowledge of training and your people to bear during design.

4 – Encourage informal knowledge sharing
In the current age of social networking, encourage employees to share knowledge informally. This may be facilitated via a secure network within an intranet, or through a group set up on one of the more popular social networks, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. You might find that staff will be happy to access such informal learning at a time when they know they have to keep up in terms of knowledge and skills.

5 – Consider pre-induction training
Get people learning about your organisation and processes before they actually start, when they’ll be highly engaged and keen to make an impression. Pre-induction, or onboarding, reduces the training burden once new staff have joined, meaning they can hit the ground running.

6 – Maximise different training channels
Look at using existing training resources that could be delivered using different channels. For example, create e-learning to reach large numbers of staff. But then use the same materials – design images, stories and questions – to produce posters, brochures or PowerPoint slides. You don’t need to write and design a new course or campaign from scratch.

7 – Don’t ditch your classroom training
It can be tempting, but scrapping all classroom training when training budgets are cut may be a mistake. Instead, think “horses for courses” – transfer costly classroom-based training into a blended learning programme. For example, select key role-play or discussion points from a three-day classroom course to create a one-day course. The key knowledge learning and testing elements can then be transferred online to ensure no learning is lost.

8 – Get staff learning at home
Offer incentives, such as paying the home broadband bill for the training period in return for time invested in training at home. This minimises disruption during the working day and enables training to be centrally tracked and assessed to monitor its effectiveness.

Source: People Management magazine, page 33, 16 July 2009

Read original article here

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