I’ve spent over a decade training, educating, and implementing a variety of courses, and, in my experience, the word training has always been viewed as an expense versus an investment.
Why is it that training always seems to be a good idea right up until budget planning begins? And why, when the budget gets tight, does training always seem to be the first “priority” thrown out the window?
The truth is, even though most organizations might proclaim training employees to be a priority, it quickly becomes an afterthought when reviewing strategic planning and budgeting. The reason being—most organizations aren’t sure exactly how to measure the outcome and output of training. That’s a huge deal because, when it comes to planning and nailing down a budget, if you don’t know what outcomes something will produce, then that idea is quickly pushed aside until some undisclosed, later date.
So, how do you measure the output of training?
Well, there’s a few layers to this process. Here are a few questions to think about to get you started:
1. What kind of training do you need?
What is your delivery mechanism of training? Time is critical to everyone. By selecting the appropriate training delivery, your employees will thank you because it maximizes their time with a return on knowledge that they can immediately apply to their work. For starters, here’s a few innovative training techniques to try:
- Fine-tune training (or desk-side training)
- Virtual or web based training (can be self-paced or instructor lead)
- Classroom training
- Blended learning (combination of on-site and remote)
Any of these learning approaches can work. The right training type for your particular organization, however, should be determined by your culture, affordability, availability, and requirements (such as a certification course). Lean on your training partner to help you determine your learning objectives, and then choose the right approach.
2. What is the output?
Increased productivity. In order to determine if your staff is more productive after a training course, it’s critical to set a baseline of how much effort they put forth before taking the course, and then reassess afterwards to empirically quantify the amount of time saved.
3. What are the outcomes?
Knowledge gained. For professionals, continual learning is critical to remain competitive in an industry and be an asset to an organization. Providing an opportunity for staff to grow from having a working knowledge to becoming a subject matter expert through training, retraining, and executing that new knowledge on the job is priceless. Staff who are competent and confident yield to be your better employees.
Empowered staff. Training empowers individuals to own their work and be held accountable, as well as become an asset to an organization. By providing your staff with training opportunities, it shows that you’re investing in them. In effect, your staff will be more competent and confident, which generally yields higher quality work. What’s more, self-sufficient employees create more value for the organization.
4. Where do you go from here?
Years ago, when I was providing CPR training to corporations, the employers who hired me clearly recognized that teaching life-saving skills to their staff could one day save a life! …But, not all training is that life-critical. In fact, when it comes to most types of training, you actually need to train yourself to be able to see the underlying benefits of the investment. Ironic, right?
While it may appear that there is never an ideal time for training, the financial impact of not providing training will hurt your bottom line in the end. The affects can range from employee retention to productivity and overall profitability of your organization. It’s also one of the few levers you can pull to make your organization and workforce more scalable.
Moving forward, I challenge you to take a second look at where training is as a priority in your organization and culture. I also challenge you to revisit the potential consequences of not providing training (or even professional development) courses to your employees.