No Train, No Gain
"We’re cutting costs."
"You’ll have to do more with less."
"We are restructuring."
"No unnecessary travel/training/purchases."
"Layoffs are imminent."
Unfortunately, phrases like these are all too common in many companies today because of the economic crisis gripping the nation. As a result, training funds are among the first to be cut during difficult financial times. However, with layoffs, job restructuring and a shift in the way business is conducted, employees are often given new duties without a blueprint for performing them. To ensure that the existing work force protects the bottom line by remaining productive and meeting organizational goals, it is as important for companies to invest in training during lean financial times as it is to do so when business is booming.
Rather than eliminating training altogether, human resources professionals face the challenge of developing training solutions that are smarter. One way to accomplish this task is to offer cost-effective solutions that can be utilized by employees, while remaining accessible, and with minimal disruptions to the work day. Some examples include Web-based training, training modules on internal networks and on-site training.
Benefits of Web Based Training and Internal Networks
As an alternative to traditional instructor-led training courses, Web-based training is a way to allow employees to participate in learning activities at their own pace. Numerous vendors offer both custom designed and "off the shelf" training products that can be purchased and will allow employees the freedom to access training materials from any location with an Internet connection. One advantage to Web based training for employees is that they are free to participate in training when their schedules permit. In addition to the self-paced feature, organizations often view Web based training favorably because training can occur without regard to travel time and expenses for instructors, loss of productivity, and/or overtime expenses associated with conducting training sessions outside of normal working hours.
To further reduce costs, training modules can be developed in-house using presentation software, and placed on a company’s Intranet. With access to the internal network, an employee may "click and train" as their schedules permit. This option also has broad appeal to companies, as it eliminates the need to purchase external programs and provides maximum flexibility for employee access.
Leveraging On-Site Training
Cost effective, and providing the opportunity to train employees without taking them away from the workplace, on-site training is a viable option for companies seeking to maximize their training resources during difficult financial times.
One way to facilitate on-site training is to partner with a national vendor to bring an instructor to the company. While this can be an excellent value, companies should also consider finding local professionals, through professional organizations and by word-of-mouth, to deliver on-site training as a way to reduce or eliminate a trainer’s travel expenses. When developing an on-site training program, do not overlook internal resources within organizations. Often, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are available in-house. Using a Labor Relations Manager to train line managers and supervisors on administering discipline and handling grievances, Safety and Security personnel to develop training on Workplace Violence and Front Desk Safety, or using Wellness staff to provide stress reduction workshops are examples of ways to leverage internal talent to benefit an organization’s workforce.
Incorporating Webinars and Audio Conferences to Your Training Initiatives
Hosting webinars and audio conferences is another cost-effective way to provide on-site training. To remain competitive, many national vendors offer training solutions such as webinars and audio conferences that can be accessed for one low price and attended by an unlimited number of participants. One such program is the Star 12 program offered by National Seminars Group/Rockhurst University. For an annual fee, Star 12 allows one participant to attend an unlimited number of live seminars, and access to a library of online training resources, such as webinars and audio conferences, which can be viewed by internal employee groups on relevant topics. This learning portal also provides job aides, articles and video clips, which can be viewed or downloaded at the convenience of the participant.
A comprehensive evaluation plan must be included as part of a corporate training program, regardless of the method(s) of training used. Evaluations are used to establish the link between training, business goals and results, thereby demonstrating the program’s worth to senior leadership. The plan may include pre- and post-participant reactions, behavior observations, and performance evaluations, or it may calculate the program’s Return-on-Investment (ROI).