Barak Obama, in a speech, while he was a Chicago Senator, commented that “a budget is more than just a series of number os a page; it is an embodiment of our values.”
While thinking about a training budget is a much smaller activity than building the budget of a country, the fact is that the bottom line is the same. How we allocate and spend our resources as a business or department reflects the things that we value.
When competing for attention with departments such as sales and marketing, it can sometimes be difficult to justify having additional funds allocated towards employee training and development which can be seen as yielding only longer-term instead of immediate gain.
However, having training budgets for employees provides a number of unexpected benefits for your company. Below we will share more information about the benefits of these budgets as well as some practical things to consider when setting them up.
Benefits: Employee Engagement, Retention, and Productivity
Especially when employing a younger workforce, employee engagement is crucial to get the maximum benefit from your employees. In fact, employees report that being engaged in their work can be more important to them than making money. Providing an opportunity for them to learn and grow on the job can be a contributing factor to increase this engagement.
In addition to longer-term benefits, genuinely investing in your employees helps them feel more loyal as well as increases their performance and commitment. Especially if you are working with a millennial workforce, this is even more important since Millenials are overall much less loyal to employers than previous generations of employees.
There are many ways of incentivising and encouraging employees to take part in professional development. Opportunities can be offered in-house to encourage employees to gain new skills or they can be offered through partners either through online learning opportunities or off-site conferences and events. Here are some of the various options that we would recommend:
- MOOC– Massive Open Online Courses. As the simplest, cheapest, and most diverse option for training, these courses can be a great place to start to encourage employee training and upskilling. Covering a range of disciplines, some courses can be used as prerequisites for graduate certificates and masters degrees that can be pursued later on.
- Internal Professional Development Opportunities. These are often the most effective option when there are a number of employees that require upskilling or professional development around the same topics. This often happens with a change of legislation requiring new procedures or upgrades to technological systems requiring new hands-on training. It can also be effective to introduce a new theoretical approach to more senior employees.
- Conferences and Community Professional Development Opportunities. This is where training budgets and allocations are most important. For employees, having an amount of money that allows them to find opportunities of specific interest to their personal growth and advancement is an empowering experience. While most employees have to request these types of funds, knowing that they are available will encourage them to proactively seek out growth opportunities which will only benefit your business.
- Leadership Development and Coaching. For more senior staff members learning to build niche skills and develop their careers, it could be worth investing in a leadership coach for personalised growth and guidance.
When thinking about employee training and development, it is important to use the 70:20:10 framework as a reference. This theory proposes that employees gain: 70% of their learning through experience, 20% through relationships with other people, and 10% through structured courses and programs.
Ensuring your company has a training budget and robust learning, mentorship and leadership opportunities allows your employees can learn from a variety of sources to maximise their potential and productivity for your business.