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Should there be a basic minimum in a training budget?

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We have a flexible training budget that is dependent on business needs. This can mean that some staff end up with more training than others - especially those who are not directly involved in delivering our service i.e. admin staff. The question has arisen as to whether it would be a positive step for us to have a minimum training budget per person, regardless of role. Would it show our commitment to staff and how we value them or is it off-track?
Helen Higgs

7 Responses

  1. Putting the cart before the horse
    I’m not really sure I agree with the inherent assumption that staff will value the company more because it trains them. If staff have enough skills and are competent at their jobs and neither they nor the company think they need training to achieve more then the question doesnt arise.

    If the question you are asking is will staff value (love?) us more if we allocate individual funds to train them then you have to ask yourself if the training is appropriate for each individual. Otherwise its arbitrary and meaningless – and staff can see that.

    I think its off track.

    PS. If you hire good staff that dont need training arent you running a tight ship? To allocate training budgets sends out the message to recruitment that everyone hired needs more training.

  2. Don’t do it!
    Having a minimum spend or budget per head is just a very easy way of wasting money. The ultimate end result is the demise of the training function – another example of training being a cost, not an investment.

    If there is sufficiently open communication within the organisation that people generally know that training is fully supported when it is needed, and that management does not waste money on training that is not really needed or adding value to the business then it lends some credibility to both managers and trainers in the eyes of the workforce.

  3. Training linked to business outcomes
    I have found that businesses that map training needs to the specific goals in their Business Plan reap the best rewards.

    This helps the business to focus the precious financial resource for training into areas that will deliver a business goal (most of which should ultimately be linked to raising profits or reducing costs).

    Therefore the notion of spending training money purely to reward or motivate staff (rather than directly linking the training to a business need/goal) is an interesting one – and is something only top management within the business can answer… e.g. the fact that a member of staff feels valued by the investment in their learning (albeit not directly work related) could lead to an increase in productivity – or loyalty..

    The conclusion then?

    Ideally, training budgets should be spent on knowledge and skills that will add a bottom-line payback.

    Training might also be a motivational investment – but each case should be judged on its own merits (rather than having a ‘policy’) because what motivates one member of staff won’t necessarily motivate another.

    There could be other ways of rewarding and motivating staff – that is more consistent and more flexible for the employee. For example, I have seen employers introduce ‘rewards options’ that allow the individual to pick from a selection of ‘offers’ to make up their own reward package, and training/qualifications could form part of this menu.

    Hope this gives food for thought.

    Deryck Banks
    Business Link Kent

  4. Been here before…
    Helen I posted a question similar to this a while back and got a variety of responses, some similar to those already here.

    I think Juliet’s assumption that people who don’t need training show that you’re running a highly effective ship is highly dubious. If your people require no training then they are probably completely efficient in what they do and therefore need developing (and thus training) to reach the next level of their career.

    I think a minimum budget per person will help those, particularly at lower levels in the organisation feel valued. But I think I would use an average budget per person so that training can be allocated appropriately according to needs and not in a “you’ve got £1000 so spend it or else” manner.

    A total budget figure divided by headcount would give you this number and allow it to be easily publicised along side a disclaimer along the lines of “average training spend is £xxxx per head, however how this money is allocated will vary according to job role and training needs”. This shows commitment to training and investing in training without making awkward hard to keep promises.

    Good luck with this.

  5. Equal Training for all!
    Helen asks a great question, and in my view has had some great replies.

    I personally fully support the ideals of a ‘Learning Organisation’, but only if the organisation learns! (By which, I mean that there has to be some underpinning organisational ‘strategic intent’ for it to be meaningful?)

    In larger organisations, I recognise the allocation of training budgets may *seem* ‘unfair’ or partial by some, but that is surely down to local Managers to make the business case, and recognise the value of training for their folk. Right?

    Curiously, I don’t see this problem very often in smaller organisations. I think many would see it as a luxury!

    It tends to be larger organisations where staff don’t see the economic links and business case so clearly, I suggest, and where managers may also be more easily excused from developing their own staff?

    Neither of which can be adding true ‘value’??

    So take an overall budget as suggested Helen! – but please don’t divide it equally? The organisation’s needs surely won’t be divided equally, and if staff motivation is the issue, it seems to me that further management training up stream may need far greater investment!

    I hope this may be helpful and further reinforcement of the views expressed?

    Best wishes

    Jeremy

  6. T.E.N.O.R.
    Helen:

    Good question and it raises a host of issues. Though potentially a motivator, one issue for me is that you risk the old ‘traininglevy’ problem of T.E.N.O.R.:

    Training
    Everybody for
    No
    Obvious
    Reason

    Tying what you do into good business reasons is one solution! Hope you like the phrase anyway –

    Kind regards

    Nick McBain
    [email protected]
    http://www.nickmcb.co.uk

  7. is having a budget wrong? – I don’t think so.
    business requirements budget setting is a good start point but…

    It really depends on your organisation. Tying learning needs into the business requirements is obviously an effective way of delivering the goods… but… managers will always ask you how much they should put in (or take out of) the training budgets.

    Aim for 1% of your salaries budget. This will give you a head start when looking to plan the learning and development in your organisation (linked to business requirements).

    This doesn’t mean that by putting aside 1% equivalent of the salary budget all your prayers will be answered. What it will mean is that you have an opportunity to ensure funds are put aside, then, cost out the business requirements of training which will obviously fluctuate…

    By using this technique you can show your managers what you need (over or below what you have) to deliver the requirements of the business. This can also be a saviour if your management is ‘tardy’ at identifying the business requirements in the first place!

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