Training your team – Are you investing in tomorrow at the cost of today?

Business 23rd August 2023

In a challenging economic landscape, employers are very aware of the need to maintain a competitive edge. At the same time, there is usually a pressing need to save costs where possible. One target for consideration in both areas is training.

Why review your training?

It is rare to find an employer that doesn’t provide some sort of ongoing training. The benefits of a highly trained workforce are clear. However, in tough economic landscapes with rising interest rates, increased running costs, and high inflation, it is tempting to cut training to keep a little more in the coffers. While this is a course of action that could return short term benefits, it could also be building up problems in for the future.

Rather than universally cutting training, it is often better to stand back and review your current needs. It is tempting to tighten your belt by cutting training wholesale, but a review and adjustment could well produce results you didn’t expect.

  • Ask the team what they need to know.

There is a nothing more valuable in training, or most human resource functions, than knowing what the workforce need. The people who know that best are the employees. When it comes to a training review find out the pressure points for the workforce. Where possible try to take that to the individual level. In some situation this may not be practical of course, but at least make sure you do training needs for semi-skilled and skilled team members. It’s worth making a point of also asking what training they don’t need. A lot of money goes to waste doing unwanted refresher training when there are areas of need not being addressed.

  • Is it all still relevant?

To be honest, it is quite rare to find outdated training when we are advising our clients. Where it does happen, it tends to be a result of older, generic, online courses. However, up to date doesn’t necessarily mean relevant because your needs may have changed. A contemporary scenario where this could happen is Customer service. This is now often chat or email response based so there is less value in companies investing heavily in telephone support skills.

  • Have your business goals changed?

This is another common issue. Businesses goals change and that should ideally be reflected in your training. There is no point in continuing to focus on areas that are not a part of your future development plan.

  • Do you meet current good practice?

There have been a lot of changes in the workplace in the last few years. Employers are now frequently asking us about diversity and inclusion awareness, as well as how to increase their focus on employing individuals with particular needs. Technical issues such as the use of Artificial Intelligence may also need to be considered for training and remote workers will also have different needs.

  • Are you using the right methods?

As a rule of thumb, face to face training is more expensive than online. Be careful here though, we mentioned already that training should be relevant, but it should also be effective. You need to be very careful when choosing how training is delivered. In person training may be more costly but it also allows for immediate response to questions, personal skills development, developmental assessment, provides enhanced focus and it is usually more customisable to your circumstances. Online is more convenient and often lower in cost though. This is a decision about the right environment for your learners and how effectively they will take in the information. Training that doesn’t educate is always a waste of time and a low cost course that doesn’t work is just a cost with no benefit.

Remember the benefits as well as the cost in your review

While it is clearly a good idea to re-assess your costs, it isn’t always a good idea to look at something like training for a standalone cost cutting exercise. Cutting effective training could backfire in a very big way. The best decisions are going to be all about the wider perspective and a review will tell you where you should and just as importantly, shouldn’t, cut training.

  • Training is resource and time expensive as well as having a monetary cost. It if it is done poorly, it can create issues around resistance to change in the workforce, ‘silo’ mentality surrounding specific skillsets and resentment about perceived favouritism to certain job roles or departments. The effect of training can also be difficult to measure and prove return on your investment.
  • Training is also the key to the skills development that leads to adaptability, and productivity. Well trained teams are happier in the workplace, training programmes enhance your employer brand and attract new talent, they increase retention and should, when implemented correctly, align with your business goals and ethos. Done right, a training schedule for all workers will lead to better staff retention and, ultimately, increased revenue.

The question of whether you need a long term training programme for all your team is often balancing the difference between costs and benefits. An impartial review will help you make sure that you cut the right costs without jeopardising future productivity and profitability.

We are happy to help with this, or any other human resources questions, call us on 01604 763494 and let’s chat.


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