Corporate Training Costs: Tips That Will Make Them Next to Zero
Instructional Design

Corporate Training Costs: Tips That Will Make Them Next to Zero

What does a vacant position cost? Around $14,000 over just three months. And that’s excluding the lost corporate training costs when the previous employee moved over to the competitor.

But organizations don’t choose to hold vacant positions. It’s usually not a “strategic” choice. Rather, the necessary skills are simply unavailable. And these skills are unavailable because either there are only a few people in the market who possess them, or these skills are so new that nobody has acquired them yet.

With today’s global skills gap and rapid technological advancement, the demand for new knowledge, new capabilities, and new thinking is infinitely greater than the supply.

So what do you do when the skills you need can’t be recruited? The obvious answer might be to develop your current employees through training.

But there’s a catch:

Corporate training costs can be high and off-putting. The CFO is already complaining about the size of the budget allocation for training and development. Now you might feel like the leading role in Mission Impossible 27, as you try to figure out how to upskill and reduce training costs at the same time.

You won’t risk cutting corners that could impact the quality of training. You firmly believe that poor quality training is more expensive regardless of price because it takes time and doesn’t yield any return. Training is about improvement, it’s about changing the level and magnitude of competitive competencies in the organization; it needs to be effective.

This dilemma is not unique. Yes, we’ve seen this movie before. Pressure to reduce corporate training costs while preserving quality is a real challenge for many organizations.

But there’s good news:

By following a few simple tips, organizations can achieve the impossible and watch those business training costs plunge lower than ever expected.

Pre-Training Tips

As William Blake once said, “Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but foresight is even better”.

The thing is, not all corporate training costs are incurred while training programs are in progress. Often, the design and development phases dictate the training cost estimate, and some careful planning goes a long way toward reducing this cost.

Priority Planning

The list of possible training programs can be long and overwhelming. On the other hand, the training budget is usually small and unaccommodating. So the best way to optimize your resources is to focus on the most strategically impactful areas for development.

The first step is to prioritize development areas by strategic gain. The second step is to allocate resources proportionately to the level of priority. By prioritizing the skills that will shift the business closer to its strategic objectives, and investing in their development first, there’s less risk of investing in the ‘wrong’ training programs.

Vetting Vendors

Not all vendors are made equal. And sometimes the biggest, shiniest spanner is the wrong tool for the job. Training vendors need to be properly vetted, not by size or reputation, but according to your business training needs.

As a smaller organization, or an organization requiring more generalist skills development, there is no need to pay a premium for the most popular, specialized training vendor on the market.

Choosing the vendor that offers the best value for money is a far better way to lower your corporate training costs before you even begin.

Do-it-yourself Content

New is nice, we know. But it’s not always necessary to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating training content. Especially since ’the wheel’ is already freely accessible.

What does that mean?

The internet is a feast of free resources, including articles, videos, presentations, case studies, interviews, and many other tools for learning. So, instead of taking a default approach and raising your corporate training costs by developing written notes, videos, or practice activities, first consider ways to link to online content that is free, easy to access, and suits your training needs.

And for everything else, there’s always the option to develop new content.

On-the-go Training Tips

The average training hours per employee are about 54 per year and on the rise. That’s around 6 working days! 6 days of productivity lost and never to be recouped.

One of the best ways to reduce this loss of productivity is to consider efficiencies during the training period.

Learn On The Job

On-site training workshops require hours, even days, of attendance where employees are required to sit in a stuffy room, listening to a stranger talk about something they’re probably not interested in, all while the working hours tick on by, and they stress about the long to-do list grow dusty on their desks.

Does that sound like a great idea?

Of course, it doesn’t. Actually, training doesn’t need to take away from working hours at all. When the training relates to an existing job or a practical skill employees are often able to learn on the job through mentoring, coaching, experiential learning, and job shadowing.

This allows employees to be both productive and learn at the same time, leading to reduced corporate training costs and happier employees.

“On the line” Communication

The larger and more geographically dispersed the organization, the more likely it is that employees (and trainers) will need flights, accommodation, and other travel expenses in order to attend training. But this is an unnecessary expense that inflates the average training cost per employee.

But wait, is travel really necessary?

Technology enables online communication and collaboration in the form of emails, e-conferences, discussion forums and more. Today, costs associated with travel (including time spent away from work) can be eliminated by building online channels for communication into the training design.


Online training and eLearning courses are almost always the most cost-effective learning mediums available.

Online training programs can be tailored to the needs of the learners, service a virtually unlimited number of people, and enable employees to work at their own pace, on their own time.

So, is eLearning a substitute for “real” training?

Quite the contrary. Online training doesn’t need to jeopardize the quality of learning one bit. Companies like IBM, Ernst & Young, and Rockwell Collins have managed to increase learning while reducing corporate training costs by up to 40%.

Finding the right learning management system for your needs will leverage online training as an even greater cost efficiency, with added learning effectiveness.

Post-Training Tips

Reducing the cost of training programs for employees doesn’t end when the training does. Considering feedback both to and from those who received the training can be an effective way of lowering expenses and improving the quality of future iterations.

Cost-effective Assessments

Feedback is vital for rewarding, motivating, and correcting performance in learning. But feedback is also infamous as one of the most draining types of cost in training programs. This is largely due to the misperception that feedback must be live, personalized, and must be provided by the trainer.

But this view is no longer valid in the online learning environment.

Automated feedback responses, peer feedback, self-assessment, and branching scenario videos are just a few of the online feedback tools available today. These tools require expertise for development but thereafter can assist learners in their improvement at no further cost.

Informed Iterations

In order to ensure that corporate training costs fall under the ’money well spent’ label, it’s useful to gather feedback from employees and to assess any change in employee performance. This information can assist in identifying areas for training improvement, and areas of the training that can be left out of future iterations.

Cost Is No longer An Issue

It’s time to make some changes to get the corporate training costs down and the learning gain up. You may not be Tom Cruise, but with our 8 tips, this mission is certainly not impossible.

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