Corporate training remains an essential component of any business’ overall strategy, as it helps ensure employees are constantly engaged and feel like they are growing within the organization. Yet, as a small business or young department, you may not have the funds available to make this learning happen for your employees.
You do have some options when it comes to providing internal development for your team that fits within your operational budget. There are a variety of low-cost (or even free) educational development initiatives that your business can take advantage of and provide for your employees.
Fourteen members of Forbes Human Resources Council weigh in on the low-cost training initiative organizations can make use of for new employees or ongoing staff education and why they are effective tools or resources.
1. Self-Directed Programs
Self-directed/paced programs (with formalized objectives and content) effectively provide low-cost development and ongoing education while complementing other programming. On the back end, HR designates SMEs and develops resources for learner and SME/trainer. The self-directed component appeals to those motivated individuals who wish to expand their knowledge of specific functions or topics. – Kelly Lum, Highgate
2. On-The-Job Training
On-the-job training is a low-cost training option that any company can implement. Supervisors and SMEs are given the responsibility to coach employees who need to improve their knowledge and competence in specific areas. Performance evaluations are conducted to determine the employees’ level of improvement. This program helps build the relationship between business leaders and employees. – Ochuko Dasimaka, Career Heights Consulting, Inc.
3. Lunch And Learns
Foster a culture where Lunch and Learns are the norm. These should be casual meetings over lunch, facilitated by a different person every session, and built around a topic that person specializes in and wants to broadcast. It could be discussing a new book they’ve read, a new tactic, a new craft in their field or a new approach. It creates an environment of sharing knowledge. – James Banares, Valimail
4. Research Project “Bake-Offs”
Construct special projects for select cohorts as development opportunities, closing with presentations to executives. Have groups of new hires learn the business and create a video summarizing what your company is about. Emerging leaders can organize around a particular challenge and compete on the best presentation of a solution. Everyone wins when those ideas are put into action. – Stacey Browning, Paycor
5. Mentoring Programs
A low-cost training initiative organizations can make use of for new employees or ongoing staff education is a mentoring program. A mentoring program can help new employees learn more quickly about an organization and how to meet the expectations of their job. With existing employees, it can help them grow and develop their capacity to take on new challenges. – Sherry Martin, Denver Public Schools
6. Training Process Gamification
Turning elements of a training process into a game or challenge can serve as a fun, memorable way to educate employees and allow them to better retain information. In fact, any activity that teaches information in a fun context can be a very effective training tool. – John Feldmann, Insperity
7. Auditing And Measuring
Auditing and measuring are key features when implementing any training initiative. By seeing results, everyone understands the programs better. For example, once a new hire completes their onboarding sessions, test their knowledge to ensure critical information was shared. If everyone misses the same question, then you can review the material or evaluate the trainer to improve effectiveness. – Thoai Ha, Lynx Innovation
8. Online Training And Team Discussions
Utilizing a mix of short and relevant online training information along with follow-up discussions in team meetings can accelerate the path to productivity for new employees. Utilizing these online learning tools to share “best practices” in a team meeting is a low-cost, effective way for teams to continue to level up, share knowledge and reinforce a culture of learning. – Jeff Weber, Instructure
9. Inside Training With Top Performers
Training does not have to cost you a tremendous amount of money, if you look inside your organization. Your leaders and top performers can hold many soft skill and technical training classes, as well as mentor and coach junior level employees. Implementing policies such as a “trainer of the month” or a training bonus for how many hours you teach each quarter can help engage employees to train. – Charmaine Smith Winters, Samsung Austin Semiconductor
10. Do-It-Yourself Development Plans
Hold sessions to assist employees in making their own development plans. These should include their personal mission statements, their short-term and long-term career goals, their current skills gaps and plans to close these gaps. This is very cheap if you have an e-learning developer and a subject matter expert or a trainer with this expertise. – Lotus Yon, NCH
11. Training Videos
Most companies hold regular meetings with their management-level personnel, and inevitably there are segments of training on topics from HR (discrimination and harassment) to accounting (managing a P&L). By having these seminars recorded, your company can have new managers watch these videos and get up to speed much faster. For the managers who were at the meeting, they have an on-demand refresher at their fingertips. – Peter K. Murdock, Blackmon Mooring/BMS CAT
12. Social Learning
In my experience, one of the best low-cost and easy-to-implement training solutions is social learning, where one employee can shadow a more experienced team member to better understand his/her role, day-to-day responsibilities and processes. Benefits include real-time and direct feedback, knowledge transfer and catering to individual learning preferences. Social learning fosters a collaborative organizational culture. – Genine Wilson, Kelly Services
13. Apprenticeships And Cross Training
Never underestimate the power of apprenticeships (internal mentor programs) and cross training. Apprenticeships give employees and managers the chance to intern within the organization, working with leaders or other departments on projects and/or development. These low-cost methods are effective ways to train and develop employees, build engagement and internal morale. – Tasha Bell, Talbert House
14. A Mentoring Program
Mentoring, when done right, is a network intervention that requires the least capital expenditure and can provide positive impact in a variety of areas such as onboarding, learning, employee engagement and retention. The challenge is that simply launching a mentor program is not sufficient. It requires nuanced planning and consideration of mentor-mentee alignment, adoption and culture change. – Gregory Pontrelli, Lausanne Business Solutions