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3 Ways to Maximize Employee Training Dollars

By Chris Evans on January 26, 2017

Budgeting is an important process for any organization, and employee training is often one of the more Person calculating employee training costsdifficult items to allocate budget to. No one wants to pay for training, but they will pay for the results of training if they are linked to driving the business strategy. The probability that you will be able to demonstrate these results depends on the types of employee training methods that you employ and the ongoing support provided to employees, but following these three steps can help you cut employee training costs without sacrificing program quality or knowledge retention.

1. Choose the Right Training Methods

Not all training options are equal. A lecture, an online training course, and an immersive experiential learning program will all have different costs, but they will also deliver vastly different results. This is where the executive team needs to see the full picture and not just a price tag for each training option. Present each training option with the following information, so decision-makers are fully informed about all the options and their ability to drive the organization's strategy forward.

  • Training method
  • Costs
  • Expected training outcomes
  • Expected impact on the business results
  • Long-term strategic impact
  • Associated measurement and retention activities

Weighing not just the cost but also the benefits of various training methods will allow you to decide which options are worthwhile investments and which ones are likely to be less effective. If you’re not sure which training methods are most effective, become familiar with learning decay and how it can impact your employee training program.   

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2. Promote Practice Through Application

The only way that individuals can successfully cultivate new skills is through practice. By applying their newly acquired knowledge to their real-life jobs, participants will turn information into long-term habits, which means you will not have to invest in teaching the same concepts again and again. You can encourage the application of new skills by:

  • Ensuring the training event builds conviction, not just better informing participants
  • Ensuring line managers are equipped to coach the new skills that have been trained
  • Celebrating individual and team successes
  • Recognizing when employees exhibit the desired behaviors
  • Having weekly check-in meetings to track adoption of new behaviors
  • Creating an environment that facilitates employees safely testing their new skills

The last thing that you want to hear after investing in an employee training event is “That was fun, but I don’t use any of that information when doing my job.” On the contrary, you want employees to enthusiastically embrace new habits that support organizational goals.

3. Reinforce to Reduce Retraining

In addition to application, it’s also important to reinforce the new behaviors until they become a fully integrated competency. Doing an employee training event with no follow-up often results in the need for retraining, which will impact your budget and credibility, not to mention it will take valuable training dollars away from new initiatives. You can reinforce training by:

  • Implementing digital tools like gamification & bite-sized digital learning
  • Equipping line managers to reinforce the initiative for 6-9 months
  • Creating discussion groups to keep the conversation going and to maintain momentum
  • Using measurement tools that monitor progress
  • Offering one-on-one coaching to those who are less able to adopt new behaviors
  • Reinforce with training in advance on the topic or on related topics

Employee training must be viewed holistically to get the most benefit. Although the cost is an important factor that needs to be properly managed, a larger up-front investment and a focus on application and retention often provide longer-lasting results that deliver a vastly superior impact a better return on investment. Taking this strategic approach to drive behavior, which in turn drives the business results the executive team is looking for, is the key to being able to sustainably invest in your people.

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Chris holds an MBA from Cornell-Queens Executive MBA Program. From 2006-2014, he was the Executive Director and COO of Muskoka Woods Sports Resort. He is now the Executive Vice President Marketing and Business Development at Eagle’s Flight. His diverse executive background managing portfolios include operations, sales and marketing, finance, fundraising and Human Resources. Eagle’s Flight benefits from Chris’ experience and expertise in leading, facilitating and consulting for client executive teams, specifically in the development of their strategic vision and plan.

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Founded in 1988, Eagle's Flight has earned its reputation as a global leader in the development and delivery of business-relevant, experiential learning programs that achieve specific training objectives and lasting behavior changes.

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