FINANCE

How to stretch your training budget

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In the majority of organisations, the training budget appears to be the first to be squeezed when times are tough, but can you really afford to keep people around who are stagnating instead of continuously growing and learning new skills?

The reality is that in most organisations, we are constantly expecting more from our team members. Are we then not also responsible for enabling them to give more? On the other hand, we completely understand the severely negative impact of cash flow constraints on a business. Therefore it’s important to develop a culture of continuous learning. And developing a culture of continuous learning does not have to break the bank, says Su-Mari du Bruyn, Director and Co-founder of Adapt To Change.

Du Bruyn, a qualified HR practitioner and logistics specialist, who assists businesses to improve their business performance and better engage their staff, also recently launched her e-book business guide, The Power to Ignite. In this issue, she provides tips on how to stretch your training budget.

1. Triple-check your current spending

Carefully consider what you are currently spending your training budget on. How much of your training budget is going toward travelling and accommodation instead of training? Consider local, in-house and online options instead. Also make sure you are really getting value for money. If people are not adding more value to the business as a direct result of the new skills they acquired during training, then you have to consider spending your money more effectively. Are you sending people for external training at a huge cost when that expertise is perhaps already available internally? Although this may not always be the most appropriate option, at least consider giving internal employees the opportunity to share their own knowledge with each other.

2. Shop around for cost-saving opportunities

Consider alternative options. If you make use of the same service provider year on year or for several of their courses, try and negotiate for a discount. Look around for special offers, or try and collaborate with suppliers and customers to train more people simultaneously and, in doing so, reduce the cost per attendee.

3. Low-cost or free options

There are so many free webinars and low-cost workshops available—why not make use of these? The quality of the information shared is (more often than not) exceptional. Do not forget to support your local library or start an internal library for employees. Also consider making use of newsletters, card sets, videos and posters.

4. Remember to mix it up

Training and development should never be limited to formal external training. Intentionally incorporate a variety of learning opportunities so that continuous skills development is accessible to everyone throughout your organisation. Reading, task or project assignments, on-the-job training, coaching, demonstrations and shadowing are all excellent elements to incorporate into your strategy.

5. Recognise your team members for empowering themselves and others

This will send a very important message to your team members about what you value and it will reinforce the right type of behaviour. There are many ways to convey a ‘thank you’ at negligible or even with no cost involved. The most important thing is to be sincere and consistent with your recognition. You can give it a personal touch with a handwritten thank-you note and/or personal handshake from the big boss, for example. Recognise people publicly so that others can see it and be inspired as well. Also consider giving them a little token to keep (a card will suffice). Let them know that you are proud of them and encourage and support them as they progress along their journey.

“The most important thing is not to let limited available funds stifle your continuous learning culture. Start getting creative! Although there is definitely a place for formal external training programmes, it is certainly not the only option you have,” says Du Bruyn.

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