I was asked recently how to reduce the costs of learning and development, and at the same time increase its impact.
It is such a loaded question — training / learning/ development is a multi-faceted aspect of most businesses today. The answer depends on the outcome that the business wants to achieve – why they provide training. Any scheme to reduce costs will depend highly on the answer to this question.
A mature organisation will develop its people for two main reasons:
- to ensure that the capability of the organisation is aligned with the strategy and is able to continue to provide its products/services AND meet the challenges that might be faced by the business;
- to motivate and reward their great staff in order to retain them over time, particularly in professional environments where learning is often highly valued.
6 Ideas for Increasing the Impact of Learning and Development
Here are 6 ways to reduce costs and increase impact without reducing the level of development:
- Know your organisation’s current capability and any gaps. Include both hard and soft skills.
- Have a strong and active development / training plan (ie very little opportunistic training occurs) and align the plan strongly with the strategy.
- Not all development is provided by courses or consultants – investigate ways for alternative skill development such as targeted reading/research, mentoring/coaching, experiential training and strong mechanisms for in-house transfer of knowledge and expertise.
- Retain older staff with an expectation that they will mentor younger staff.
- If you use consultants, only use the best (not necessarily the most expensive). Have a good system for evaluating consultants. It will be cheaper in the long run.
- Know your staff – match development opportunities to their current role, career aspirations and key motivators.
So it all comes down to excellent processes, early assessing, strategising and planning, and strong engagement with your staff. Don’t forget to keep some of your budget aside for the unexpected — projects and activities with special training needs will always arise.