Training on a budget: Cost-effective ways to grow your employees’ skills
Instructional Design

Training on a budget: Cost-effective ways to grow your employees’ skills

, Former Content Marketing Manager

Everyone knows training is helpful — but getting the budget for it is a challenge on its own.

You’ve probably heard it during tough budget conversations: “employee training is a luxury and we need to cut training costs.” While it’s true that the training budget can take up a significant chunk of a company’s overall budget, employee training is not that expensive when you consider the costs of not offering it.

One simple way of understanding the importance of training even during lean times is to think of it in terms of equipment or machinery. You wouldn’t allow your machines to get rusty or skimp on maintenance, would you? Yet when it comes to living, breathing, human employees, sometimes we tend to forget they also need some type of “care” to keep functioning.

If you’re having trouble convincing your CEO or CFO that your training budget should not be slashed during budget cuts, read on. In this article, we’ll discuss all the ways cutting employee training costs can be financially detrimental — and how you can keep training your employees on a tight budget.

Why not training employees is more expensive

Of course, you already know that employee training is fundamental. But when it comes to researching training platforms and whether investing in one is worth it, have you considered how much it will cost to not offer that training in the first place?

Not training employees can yield much higher costs in the long run. Here are some examples of hidden costs associated with lack of employee training:

Higher employee turnover

A recent survey on remote workers revealed that 72% of employees would stay with a company in the long run if they got training opportunities. And, in another survey, 7 out of 10 employers (69%) claimed that upskilling and reskilling training has improved employee retention.

What’s the meaning behind these numbers? Employees not only value learning opportunities but also when they don’t get any, they’re more likely to leave. And the recruiting and onboarding costs to replace them are definitely not trivial.

Compliance and safety costs

Let’s begin by stating the obvious: compliance training is mandatory. Not training for compliance is how you get workplace accidents or cyber attacks and data breaches. And companies that face non-compliance issues, lose an average of $14.82 million in everything from legal settlements to business disruption costs.

If this wasn’t alarming enough, there’s also a link between poor compliance training and poor employee engagement that in turn results in errors and overall quality decrease.

Losing your edge over the competition

As this Forbes article points out, when times are hard, you need to ensure your employees are at their absolute best. But how can you keep them up-to-date and help them grow their skills and gain new knowledge if you remove training?

When your employees aren’t well-equipped, then there’s nothing stopping your competition from swooping in and winning over your customers. Cue a drop in sales, eventually.

When you think about it in those terms, the cost of training is definitely not that high anymore.

Train your teams without breaking the bank with TalentLMS
The training platform that users consistently rank #1.

Easy to set up, easy to use, easy to customize.Create my TalentLMS forever-free account

How to train employees if you’re on a tight budget

What if, despite all the above, your training budget is still limited?

The answer is not to abandon employee training altogether, but to be more strategic about it. For example: by conducting performance evaluations, you can see who really needs training the most — and prioritize them.

But apart from being more conscious about the “who”, you can also take a look at the “how”. Here are some cost-effective online training methods that will see you through the lean times without sacrificing quality:

1. Re-purpose and re-use online training content

We all know the value of recycling — well, you can apply the same principle to employee training, as well. And this is where online training can help. You can create content once and use it multiple times. You can even create different formats from the same material. For example, you could have a video presentation of your company policies for new hires and a PDF version of the same presentation employees can reference when needed.

You might have to adapt your training from time to time to cover new products you’re launching or new tools you’re switching to. Or, simply new compliance regulations you need to cover. But even with that in mind, the training budget for your online content will still be much smaller.

That’s because you don’t have to pay instructors for physical appearances and arrange hotels/flights/conference rooms/snacks… just for that one time or event. Online training is much more sustainable. You could simply create a min-course with what’s new and ask employees to complete it instead of having to go through the entire training session all over again.

2. Opt for microlearning

Another smart way to cut employee training costs is to focus on microlearning.

Microlearning, aka short sessions (3-6 minutes max) that are instructive without overwhelming your learners with too much content, has many advantages: from being more engaging to helping with information retention. But it also helps you manage your whole training program.

You can combine microlearning videos in different sequences to create different modules. This will make things much easier whenever you need to make changes, as you won’t have to edit your whole course. You could also create different learning paths for different roles and teams by changing small parts of your training program.

3. Offer ready-made courses

One of the things that skyrocket the training budget is having to create learning programs from scratch. Because in that case, you might need to hire experts to create the content and designers to make it look beautiful. Or, you might need to spend a big part of your time doing it by yourself.

When you want to keep your training costs low, you can give your employees access to a library of ready-made online courses. For example, TalentLibrary™ covers a vast range of soft skills your employees need for success at work. This way, you won’t have to worry about the quality of your content, as it’s already created by top experts. You also don’t have to worry about running out of content ideas, or paying for each course separately.

Meet TalentLibrary™
A growing collection of ready-made courses that cover the soft skills
your teams need for success at work

4. Create simple eLearning videos

For those times when you need to create your own content, talking head videos can be a cost-effective and quick solution. They are simple to shoot and have minimum requirements when it comes to equipment and post-production (which normally takes a lot of time and money).

Pick a nice spot in your office with good lighting and record a video through your laptop camera at no cost. If you have some basic video editing skills and access to relevant software, you can include some additional resources or notes. Otherwise, you can share them with your employees afterward as a separate file.

If you want to learn more, here’s our guide on how to produce talking head videos.

5. Socialize instructor-led training sessions

Even on a tight training budget, you don’t have to forgo instructor-led training completely. But you do need to make the most of each session if you’re not able to afford as many sessions as you’d like.

Again, let’s think of the concept of re-purposing materials. Imagine you’re hosting a webinar. This is a great training opportunity for your employees. But why stop there? Instead of having one speaker sharing their experience and knowledge, you can use this time to create smaller training opportunities, too.

During the webinar, incorporate polls, breakout rooms, Q&A sessions, passing on the mic to participants. Anything that encourages participants to interact with each other and the instructor is a new training opportunity. Social learning is an engaging and low-budget way to train employees. And, thankfully, video conferencing tools are very sophisticated nowadays, making it easier for participants to be more active learners.

6. Encourage peer learning

Reduce training costs by relying on internal experts instead of turning to external instructors. And which are those internal experts? Your current employees. Inside your teams, there are already people with a lot of experience in their field or people with some unique talents.

For example, look for an employee with great productivity hacks or someone who’s the spreadsheet pro. Those people can host presentations for the rest of the team and share their tips. All it will cost you is some time off their regular job duties.

An offshoot of keeping your instructor-led sessions social and open to comments and active participation, is that you’re motivating your more experienced employees to share their knowledge with others. This is the first step to doing peer learning sessions, where these experienced employees will jump into the role of a trainer.

Plus, peer learning is a way to show appreciation to your employees and helps boost team communication.

7. Deliver on-the-job training

Another cost-effective type of training is on-the-job training. This basically means that you’re allowing new hires to learn as they do, instead of offering a long onboarding training session that could potentially become costly.

On-the-job training and coaching has several advantages. It can be equally helpful to different learning styles, it’s personalized, flexible, and allows new employees to learn by making mistakes in a safe environment. You can also apply on-the-job training for employees who get promoted or transitioned to a new role.

8. Invest in a cost-effective LMS

It may sound contradictory to buy new software when you’re looking to cut back on costs. But it makes sense if you see the bigger picture. In the long run, an LMS will save you money. Because you’ll be able to create and replicate content at no extra cost and without using more tools, store courses for future use, and get data to discover what works and what doesn’t.

When you research training platforms, aim for vendors with a free trial. This way, you can test if that particular platform covers your training needs, without committing to buying. You can also check whether there’s a smaller pricing plan, even if it means you don’t have access to every feature, so you can still enjoy the LMS benefits without hurting your training budget.

How to train employees on a tight training budget

Employee development doesn’t have to break the bank

Even when your training budget is small, there are still ways to make it count.

You just need to be strategic about your spending, focus on the things that will move the needle forward, and evaluate your results often. Using some of these cost-effective training methods described above will go a long way — along with finding the right LMS to house your training.

Save time, frustration and money with TalentLMS, the most-affordable and user-friendly learning management system on the market. Try it for free for as long as you want and discover why our customers consistently give us 4.5 stars (out of 5!)

Try for free!

Christina Pavlou - Former Content Marketing Manager

Christina, ex-Content Marketing Manager at Epignosis, focuses on L&D, diversity, and enhancing workplace well-being. Learn how to improve your work environment. More by Christina!

Christina Pavlou LinkedIn

Start your eLearning portal in 30 seconds!

Get started it's free!

TalentLMS is free to use for as long as you want! You can always upgrade to a paid plan to get much more!