11 ways to train staff on a budget

For some businesses, staff training doesn’t always come at the top of the agenda. However, it is vital that organisations do not underestimate the importance and benefits of training employees. If your business is only able to allocate a small budget dedicated to training employees, this does not mean that it’s impossible to provide a fulfilling training schedule. 

Ongoing training has been found to add many benefits to a business by keeping staff motivated and equipping them with the ability to hone their skills and improve productivity. Here are 11 ways to achieve just that:

1. Know Your Training Goals and Needs

When arranging training for staff, it is essential to analyse and identify which areas your employees may be lacking in expertise, to improve the business needs. Initiate training only where a gap in knowledge has been identified. The arranged training must match the goals for the organisation that relies upon staff development in some way.

Management needs to create a clear vision as to where the business is heading and initiate training programmes that can enhance careers and the overall success of the organisation.

2. Listen to Your Staff 

Set aside time to meet with employees at all levels of the organisation. A listening tour is a great way to learn about employees specific roles, the challenges they face and to further understand the culture within the organisation.

It is helpful to ask questions of staff regarding their most and least fulfilling areas of work. From the information obtained, it is then possible to identify needs and formulate a training strategy to meet them.

3. Utilise Staff Expertise

It is worth building a training programme that utilises the talent, skills and expertise from your employees so that they can train their colleagues. 

To encourage staff to become a trainer within the organisation, try appointing them as a ‘champion’ on a subject area. Employees can then be responsible for passing their knowledge on to others as well as being a support service to those who have questions on the topic.

4. Mentoring & Reverse Mentoring

Mentoring is when an employee with a specific set of skills meets with a colleague lacking in those skills on a one to one basis. This arrangement builds strong relationships within teams and helps new recruits develop and thrive at a quicker rate. Reverse mentoring is also used to create a system of knowledge exchange, usually between lower-level employees and management.

5. Performance Appraisals

It is vital for both the company and employee that appraisals are carried out, at the very least, on an annual basis. Setting up an evaluation with employees allows both parties to reflect on the year and to make constructive observations in connection with performance. 

The appraisal is a great tool to help assess staff training needs. Identifying gaps in your employees’ training and development on an ongoing basis provides essential feedback to understand best where training may be required.

6. Employee Rotation

Cross-training has been a popular approach for many years, and it can be hugely beneficial for both the company and employees to rotate staff between roles to avoid stagnation and to broaden their expertise. 

Rotation of staff across different projects which require the employee to learn and develop their skills, will improve their confidence and motivation levels, and also retain staff with increased capabilities. 

7. Monthly Lunch & Learn

Some companies set up a monthly forum wherein staff can spend a lunch break listening to a presentation from a colleague who has expertise on a particular subject. Lunch & Learn sessions provide a great experience for the staff member presenting and an opportunity for the audience to learn and be inspired. The forum also creates an increased sense of unity between team members.

8. Online Learning

Many organisations are happy to support and encourage their employees to enrol in online courses. Online courses are often far cheaper than traditional classroom-style training. E-learning is also an excellent way to track progress, but it is essential to play an active role in monitoring this to ensure that the staff member is engaged in suitable training.

9. Look for Service Provider Packages

Where your organisation has been supplied a product or service, this may be accompanied by technical training programmes delivered via webinars or study manuals. This is to ensure that the product is understood and used to its full potential. 

It is worthwhile exploring company websites or searching online for training materials associated with the product in question. For example, installation of a new piece of software may result in availability of webinars designed for various user roles.

10. Resource Sharing

Businesses may be aware of other organisations who require the same set of skills from their staff. By partnering with a similar organisation or charity, for example, there is the potential to offer joint courses to help reduce costs.

Some organisations form what is known as a ‘skills exchange’ with each other wherein they share knowledge and experience between them. 

11. Seek Free Training Opportunities

There are opportunities in all kinds of sectors and areas of business where free training is available. Companies often offer free training as a way of promoting their product or service. 

Membership organisations, for example, trade associations, are likely to offer members free or discounted training. 

In conclusion, it is clear to see that even with a lack of funds for training budgets, there is still a wide range of options open to an organisation. With a little thought and creativity, a useful and valuable training programme can be designed and maintained with lasting benefits to both the staff and the business.

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