- Training is crucial for businesses to boost individual and organisational performance.
- The cost of training can be expensive – but there are tangible long term gains in having a comprehensive training programme in place.
- Digital technologies such as VR training can hold the key to reducing costs without compromising on quality.
Why Employee Training & Development is Important
Having a comprehensive training programme is great for employees and businesses alike. A highly skilled workforce is at the heart of any successful organisation; inextricably linked to improved productivity and a company’s performance. Moreover, it is crucial for both attracting and retaining valued employees, by motivating employees to reach their potential and contributing to their morale and wellbeing.
According to Government figures, UK employers invest around £42.0bn in training per year, with an average spend of £1,530 per employee. Training programmes can be expensive – and it’s easy for costs to spiral out of control. But there are some key measures that learning and development teams can put into place to help minimise costs without compromising on the quality of training programmes.
Costs Associated With Training Employees
The first step to reducing training budgets is to identify the breakdown of costs associated with your company’s training programme. Whether you’re introducing off the shelf, digital training through to bespoke face-to-face courses, direct costs can include:
If you’re commissioning an external training practitioner to develop bespoke courses, there are numerous costs to be factored in. A significant amount of time may be needed to produce content to meet the training objectives – and design a course (or courses) that provides a framework that best suits the learning process. It’s also useful to remember that course development may need to go through numerous iterations before it fits the bill – and time taken to do this can significantly inflate development costs.
With advances in technologies, coupled with external forces such as the Covid pandemic impacting, the world of work is in a constant state of flux – and your training programmes need to reflect this. What worked perfectly last year may no longer fit the bill; so courses that are used over a period of months or years need to be regularly reviewed and potentially updated.
Course development is only part of the story; you also need to consider the range of costs incurred running the course. These can include instructor Costs can include instructor day rates and, If your course is held off site, room hire. Courses aren’t always a once, and once only exercise. If you’ve multiple employees to be trained on a specific subject over a period of weeks, months or even years, you’ll inevitably have to run the course multiple times. If training takes the form of a live, instructor-led course, you will need to consider the cost of repeating the course.
Equipment and materials
Training courses often require training manuals and guides to be produced (and potentially regularly updated). Even supplying a simple photocopied information sheet can lead to rising costs when supplied at scale – not to mention the potential design and print costs for more comprehensive supporting resources – not to mention further reading that the trainer may recommend.
Specific equipment or software may also need to be supplied to undertake more hands-on training. Whether you invest in buying equipment up front, or hire in on specific days, this needs to be factored into any annual training budget.
But remember; costs don’t stop there, there are indirect costs too!
Bringing staff together to a single location
Bringing teams together may mean for traditional classroom based training, costs have the potential to spiral out of control. Your employees may need to travel to a single location away from their usual workplace, including travelling to different countries around the world. This means you will have to factor in the costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence for attendees.
However great your employees are at multi-tasking, they ultimately can’t be in two places at once. Training will generally take employees away from their day job, so factoring in the cost of their downtime and the impact this has on their productivity is essential. This also applies to on-the-job training; you’ll need to also consider the impact this will have on any employees taking on the role of trainer, in addition to your trainees.
Training doesn’t magically happen, it takes careful logistical planning. When planning employee training, don’t forget to take into account the time it will take for someone to schedule training dates, organise diaries and potential equipment, brief trainers and trainees, produce materials, process invoices and book appropriate venues. Moreover, time taken to evaluate and record the impact of any training intervention will also need to be considered.
Ways to Reduce Employee Training Costs
As training can be costly, does this leave companies with the dilemma of having to reduce training to save costs, but run the risk of compromising the intrinsic business benefits that training brings?
There are ways that businesses can maintain high quality, impactful training programmes without blowing the budget. By thinking smarter about the individual needs of employees and introducing technologies for training, costs can potentially be reduced without compromising on effectiveness.
Think twice about classroom based learning
Classroom based training may be a go-to option for training employees on masse, but by opting for traditional, face-to-face learning, your company may be missing a trick and unnecessarily committing to costly training. By exploring more innovative options, you might not only reduce direct training costs, but also benefit from training techniques that improve knowledge retention and boost productivity.
Go digital – and flexible
Digitally delivered courses can offer great training experiences as well as value for money. Often delivered in shorter, bite sized sessions, digital courses offer the flexibility to provide truly personalised learning experiences.
Although some digital training, such as instructional videos can be passive experiences, many digital experiences can include tests and quizzes to reinforce learning – and also feed directly into an employee’s HR records. What’s more, some recorded digital training courses aren’t limited by specific times, meaning that training can be accessed to fit around other work commitments and help to minimise impact on downtime.
In addition to bespoke courses, there are a wealth of free or low cost off the shelf training through websites such as FutureLearn and LinkedIn Learning that can boost your employees skills.
Don’t introduce training for the sake of it
Make sure that any training intervention has purpose. Introducing a raft of one size fits all training may look good on paper, but could be a waste of money. Remember when commissioning or approving any courses that they should always address the key drivers behind training; to improve the knowledge and skills of individuals and ultimately boost company performance?
Harness the skills and knowledge of existing employees
Your organisation is full of talented people with incredible skills – so why not take advantage of their knowledge? Introducing employee-led training, as well as internal mentoring and coaching programmes offer great options for multiplying your skills base. Internal training can take many forms; from short, face-to-face training sessions, or blend in person. What’s more, online sessions can be recorded to provide an online training module that can be re-used in the future.
Be smart about your resources
In addition to the potential of your existing employees, chances are, your organisation has a breadth of existing training materials that could be recycled and reused to a wider audience. Undertaking an audit of training and user guides, as well as existing online content is a great place to start a collective training library that can be easily repurposed and accessed by all employees.
How VR Can Reduce Training Costs
Immersive technologies such as virtual reality may hold the key to the future of training – and help save money in the process. Virtual reality experiences take place in digitally imagined spaces that can accurately represent the workplace – and tasks that employees need to undertake. It can be accessed by multiple team members at any time, without the need to be in the same physical location. This makes it a great tool for training individuals and teams working on interdependent activities. Which is great, but is it cost effective?
The perception that VR training is a prohibitively expensive training tool that’s out of reach for many organisations is outdated. Yes, there are initial upfront costs that need to be considered, but as part of a long term training strategy, VR offers companies the chance to revolutionise training programmes with an affordable price tag.
Virtual reality can help to reduce or even eliminate training costs through its:
Accessibility and re-usability
With a significant reduction in the unit cost of VR hardware, coupled with platforms such as VISIONxR becoming increasingly realistic and accessible. Once you’ve got your equipment in situ and your VR experience developed, you’ll start to reap the cost benefits of the upfront costs. Your experience can be accessed remotely by employees an infinite number of times, meaning that many of the costs that are traditionally associated with training, such as additional instructor costs for running a course multiple times and having to pay to get learners to travel to access training are eliminated.
Rapid learning potential
As VR can offer a hands-on experience that replicates a realistic working environment, where employees learn by doing. By doing this, and crucially, by being able to repeat procedures, skills can be honed to perfection and knowledge retention is significantly improved. This means that trainees learn quicker and leave better trained, which can be applied in the workplace immediately, with the positive impact on performance and productivity being realised.
Potential to be easily updated
If you need to update training experiences in VR to reflect updated skills needs or working practices, you don’t need to go back to the drawing board and start again from scratch. VR can be easily updated and distributed swiftly and easily across an organisation. This gives training longevity and lowers long term redevelopment costs.
The world of work is constantly changing; and in the future, employees and organisations will have to address the new world of working practices that have been accelerated over the past two years with the Covid pandemic. The introduction of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and IoT (internet of things) can offer a wealth of opportunities, but they also bring challenges for individual employees and organisations alike. Having a highly trained and skilled workforce is at the heart of any company’s success and employee training programmes need to be ahead of the game for organisations to survive and thrive.
Realistically, no business can afford a limitless training budget – but cutting back costs too far could have a potentially damaging impact on performance and productivity. Learning and development teams need to ensure that any training intervention offers great value for money without compromising on quality and retention of knowledge and skills. And what better way to address issues around the digital challenges of the future, than to harnessing the training power of forward looking digital technologies such as virtual reality?
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