How are you making the most of your training budget? Do you even have one? Like anything, if you don’t set aside a specific budget for training, you’ll either not spend anything on it at all or feel like you’re constantly shelling out money for it. Do you have a marketing budget? Most businesses do, because they recognise the importance of investing in the business consistently. They also understand the need to view marketing (and therefore the budget) strategically. Yet, when asked what’s the most important part of their business, most would say their employees. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a training budget and strategy then?
If you’re not sure where to start, a quick Google search suggests two possible methods for calculating your training budget. The first is to take your total salary costs and apply a percentage from 1% to 5%. You can increase the percentage when you want to focus on training more than normal, for example when going through changes in your organisation. The second method is to multiply the number of employees you have with a set amount. In 2017, that amount was around £1432. (Training Magazine’s Training Industry Report). Once you have a budget in place, its important to let your managers know that it exists and be clear about what its to be used for – that is, to help employees learn and develop in order to improve the performance of the business, not for random ‘team building’ activities. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of it by following these three steps:
1 – Have a process
Set up and introduce a process for people to request training which includes them telling you why they want it or how it’ll help them with their work. You might want to include an approval process which might depend on the amount being spent or the amount of time it requires away from work. A process like this isn’t about creating barriers or red tape to prevent people from accessing training, it’s there to help you manage it. Make it easy for people to request training and make it easy for managers to sign it off – but ask them to put a bit of thought into what they want, rather than booking a full day’s conference just before their CPD deadline!
2 – Spend it wisely
Look out for cost effective training methods such as online courses or elearning. The training needs to be good quality and needs to fit with the learning objectives, but it doesn’t need to be the most expensive. Online courses, virtual classrooms and elearning can be effective, engaging ways to learn (when done right) and they’re getting better all the time. Note that many places (including River Park) offer free webinars. These may be useful as a preview to a paid course, but are rarely a good replacement for one.
3 – Follow up
To get the most out of any training, what you do afterwards is almost as important as the training itself! Make sure you do something to follow up. This could simply be that their manager asks them about it (what did you learn, how will you apply it, how can I support you – not how was the lunch!), or you could ask that they share what they learned with other colleagues. This does not mean forwarding them the slides! It means writing up a paper or job aid or giving a short presentation. Help them to apply what they have learned and support them as they do it.
How do you make the most of your training budget?