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Training on a shoestring

Once an organisation’s leaders have decided to invest in Learning and Development, the hunt is on for the most cost effective delivery method.

There are no shortage of ways to spend money on training. As part of any organisation’s Learning and Development strategy, an outline should be made of each employees’ training needs and these individual needs should be brought together into an organisation wide training requirement. Ideally this should be an annual process with potentially a longer term overview so that the management can identify trends and longer term requirements.

The key to obtaining the most cost effective training is to think about the following areas as part of the L&D Strategy:

- What’s the strategic purpose of learning within the organisation; is it learning for the sake of learning?

    • There are organisations where learning is encouraged for its own sake. The idea is that employees become comfortable with the idea of learning and the learning skills they pick up from learning a non-vocational subject could be transferred to the work arena. However, in tough economic times, it’s hard to justify why Mavis from accounts is studying floristry and how that’s going to affect the bottom line.
    • Most organisations will want an economic reason for training which is a good idea; but don’t make it so prohibitive that training stalls.
    • Although expensive training (defined differently in different organisations; what’s expensive in one organisation, will be the norm in another) will require economic justification, there is the opportunity to encourage a learning culture in every organisation without it costing the earth. Sharing articles and books and setting up discussion groups and encouraging the mentoring and coaching and the constructive use of social media to research business issues and make contacts can be encouraged at very little direct financial cost.

- What will be the structure and delivery methods of training?

      • How much control will be required over delivery methods. In particular for the use of social media and whether the organisation is comfortable with employees at all levels of the organisation producing and consuming social media based training? It’s potentially a very cost effective delivery method and therefore should be considered.
      • Get your staff talking: Do you have employees within the organisation who could take on the roles of coaches and mentors?
      • Again coaching and mentoring are very cost effective L&D methods. However, depending on the size of your organisation, there’s the danger that the same people would be called on to be coaches and mentors resulting in them becoming overloaded.

    • Look at the benefits of using online training systems that can streamline and facilitate sharing information and training across the organisation.

- What’s the target Learning and Development spend per employee?

    • Spend per employee is an important area to consider. Are you happy sending management on expensive training courses and relying on them to filter down learnings? Or rather, is the aim to encourage everyone to develop a learning attitude and encourage a certain percentage spend per employee?

- Evaluation methods?

    • What does effective and efficient training look like for your organisation and what will be the outcome of the training undertaken?
    • It’s important to include this in the training strategy document so that everyone is clear from the outset what the purpose of the training is and how it should be carried out.
    • If an organisation has a specific training strategy such as “to ensure compliance with all compulsory training”, the measure of the effectiveness of the training strategy would be that all relevant staff have undertaken health and safety training by the year end. The measure of efficiency of the training strategy would be that training was undertaken in the optimal manner eg it might have been possible for people to attend expensive workshops or they could complete an online tutorial that would just as well fulfil the statutory requirements.

- Procurement plan

    • Once the organisation’s training requirement has been consolidated, a procurement plan should be decided on. Ideally your organisation should select preferred suppliers and negotiate preferential rates.

Your organisation can compensate for limited financial resources with thought and planning. If the management and culture of your organisation allow it, training on a shoestring can open up the organisation to creative and innovative solutions.

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