Training And Developing Your Employees On A Budget
Employee training and development is a vitally important part of any successful business. Not only do skilled workforces depend on ongoing training and development, but employees who embrace a learning mindset will be inherently more motivated and more innovative than stagnated and complacent workers.
Unfortunately, employee training and development programs can easily become unsustainably expensive. While most businesses spend relatively little on training and development outright, they often use up a staggering number of working hours on relatively ineffective training programs. Many traditional approaches, such as classroom-style instruction or traditional meetings, are still very popular despite mounting evidence that they don’t work. To be successful, businesses need to pursue training and development programs that get employees engaged.
Remember that time is money
Gathering employees together into a large group and lecturing at them isn’t just ineffective, it’s expensive. A two-hour meeting at a mid-sized business could easily eat through a hundred working hours, depending on the number of people present. To keep costs manageable, your business needs to ensure that paid time spent on development is as effective and productive as possible. Ideally, an affordable development program will incorporate unpaid time outside of work.
Employees typically want to grow and develop their careers and their earning potential. Businesses who facilitate that growth in a way that tangibly benefits workers don’t need to rely on purely work-based development. For example, businesses should seriously consider offering flexible working hours and limited tuition support for employees who are taking classes. The time spent taking a single university course, plus the time spent studying for it, is far greater than what most businesses can afford in-house.
Get employees to engage
The secret to training and developing employees effectively and affordably is engagement. People who are interested and curious naturally will pursue the development they need proactively. To build this level of engagement, training and development programs need to be designed to tangibly benefit workers. Drilling people on new procedures and company policies might be marginally helpful to your business in the short term, but it won’t do anything for employees.
Instead, curate training and development programs that employees can use to grow and educate themselves in a way that will advance their own careers. Incidentally, since these require employees to do some of the work themselves, they also tend to be the most budget-friendly options. While there are a near-unlimited number of possible innovative approaches to this, here are a few that have already been shown to be successful.
Create a Mentoring program
The most powerful development tools that businesses have are their most experienced and skilled employees. By pairing these individuals with less experienced mentees, they can provide specific, personalised training to unlock their potential. This gives workers an authoritative figure at whom to direct questions and from whom they can get candid and practical feedback. Most importantly, mentors can give their charges access to the professional resources and networks that they need to develop themselves going forward.
Encourage passion projects at work
Professionals will ultimately grow most easily in the areas that they’re the most passionate about. While there are some core competencies we all simply have to struggle through, it’s a good idea for businesses to encourage growth where it’s easiest by encouraging employees to pursue passion projects.
Some of these projects might be directly related to their jobs, such as redesigning procedures for their own roles, but they don’t need to be. Anything can be a passion project, provided the employee is passionate about it. For example, an accounting manager with exceptional people skills might be interested in organising company events or otherwise helping to develop the company culture. While the task itself isn’t about their accounting role, it does benefit the company while giving the employee the opportunity to develop organisational, logistical, and management skills.
The larger an organisation is, the more difficult it is to see the impacts and direct results of our own work. This can be a seriously demotivating issue for employees, and one that a specific type of employee development can help to address. By cross-training employees in roles that are directly related to their own, they not only learn more about how they fit within the larger organisation, they learn skills that are tangentially relevant to their job. This will make it easier for them to anticipate the needs of their coworkers and managers, and to see the value in doing the work they do done well.
Great employee training and development doesn’t need to be expensive. The most successful development programs challenge employees to grow themselves, and provide the resources needed to do so productively to benefit both your business and your employees. Using this approach, you can create a workforce that’s more engaged, innovative, and productive without compromising your business’ budget.