Organizations have always asked HR to do more training with less money. However, the current economic downturn could force unusually deep cuts in training budgets.
Training programs are among the first areas to take a hit when the economy falters. If you haven’t scaled back training expenses, will probably ask you to eventually. If you have made cuts, you may need to make more.
As you trim training budgets, don’t do it without examining the purpose of programs and their effectiveness.
Cutting training willy-nilly just to save money can create more problems than it solves. During economic downturns, companies need efficient, targeted training programs to improve productivity. And effective training positions companies to prosper as the economy recovers.
To examine training programs and avoid eliminating those that do work, ask the following questions:
1. What skills, behaviors and attitudes does the training program teach? Does the organization need those? How many employees does the program affect?
2. How does the organization measure whether employees learn any new skills, knowledge or behaviors from the program?
3. How does the organization determine whether employees apply what they have learned to their jobs?
4. Has the program directly or indirectly increased productivity, saved money or increased sales or profits?
5. Does the organization measure the total cost of the program against the benefits in productivity or other desired results such as better service, lower turnover or reduced equipment downtime?
These questions all aim to help you determine the real return on investment of your training expenditures. Assessing training this way will help you distinguish between programs that are nice to have and those that are core to your organization’s success.
Advice: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding which training programs to curtail, eliminate or replace with lower-cost alternatives. However, don’t do away with programs that work. Instead, cut the cost of providing them.
Explore alternatives to off-site training sessions and on-site programs that require hired instructors and travel.
Alternatives include online and video training programs, and exceptional employees whom HR can train to be trainers. Internet-based training can cut costs by up to 60%.
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