So you need to trim your training budget … but where? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

So you need to trim your training budget … but where?

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Training programs are among the first areas to take a hit when the economy falters. If you haven’t scaled back training expenses yet, your boss may soon ask.

As you trim training budgets, don’t do it without examining the purpose of programs and their effectiveness. Cutting training willy-nilly can create more problems than it solves.

To examine training programs and avoid eliminating those that do work, ask the following questions:

1. What skills does the program teach?
Does your organization truly need them now, or are they “nice to have” skills? How many workers does the program affect?

2. How does the organization measure
whether employees learn any new skills and/or apply them in their jobs? If you can’t measure it, don’t teach it.

3. Has the program directly
or indirectly increased productivity, saved money or increased sales or profits? If you can’t say “yes,” the training may not be essential.

4. Does the organization measure the total cost
of the program against the benefits in productivity, better service, lower turnover or reduced equipment downtime? 

Those questions can help you determine the real ROI of training costs. Assessing training this way will help you distinguish between dispensable programs and those that are core to organizational success.

Advice: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding which training to curtail or eliminate. However, don’t do away with programs that work. Instead, cut the cost of providing them. Instead of off-site training or on-site instructor sessions, explore online and video options (see box). Also, consider using exceptional employees to act as trainers.

Final tip: Hundreds of associations have responded to the recession by dramatically reducing seminar costs for their members.

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