With the new financial year coming up, many organisations look to how well they utilised their budgets in the last fiscal year and if there’s a way to improve that in the future.  How do some organisations seem to get so much more from their L&D budget? What are blue-chip companies doing differently to keep employees engaged? And how can your organisation access funding for training and ensure that your allocated budget for the coming year gives you the best return?

How and where is training funding available

While the majority of L&D spend is from organisational budgets, there are a number of government training schemes that offer funding. One in particular is the Apprenticeship Levy. While it does require some admin and effort to access, it can provide a boost to your L&D budget to help you stretch it that much further. Here’s a brief intro on how to go about it.

From April 2017 all companies with a turnover in excess of £3 million a year must pay an internship levy as part of PAYE. While many companies contribute to the fund because it is mandatory, very few are accessing it. The fund is focused on training and development of apprentices and can pay up to 50% of the costs of training providers, which can provide a significant boost to your L&D budget. More info can be found on the website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/manage-apprenticeship-funds

Aside from accessing funding, making the most of your training budget in 2018 will depend on how effectively you plan and implement your L&D. Once you have your training set up, whether it’s on digital platforms or in classroom training, here are some of my personal tips on how to make the most of training opportunities in your organisation.

Share expectations with employees prior to training

When employees are enrolled in a course, let them know why they’re on the course and what’s expected of them. Having a brief sit-down with a manager beforehand can help them understand what the training is for and what they are expected to learn from it. Having these conversations in advance creates more engaged employees. From the start, they are more likely to learn something new and put into practice what they have learnt.

Obtain management support

Managers are key role players in learning and development. Not only are they the people in the organisation most likely to be able to identify training needs, they also play an important part in reinforcing learning initiatives through coaching and mentoring.  When implementing a training course, ensure managers are well briefed on the content and objectives, so they can actively support their team members. One way to do this is to set up a debrief meeting following the training to discuss what has been learned, what support might be needed and how the learning will be implemented so that there are positive outcomes. It is also managers who create the opportunities for new skills and knowledge to be put into practice on the job.

Get tech ready

If training involves learning new technology, equipment or programmes, ensure that it is ready to use immediately following the training session. If trainees have to wait, it’s likely they will forget much of what they have learned. The immediate period following the training is critical in establishing new habits. Being able to practice and implement what has just been learnt in training will help to increase employee engagement and reinforce learning.

Match training needs

Employees are more likely to be engaged when learning something new. A mistake that organisations often make is sending the same employees on the same course, year after year. Work with managers to establish training needs and ensure that the right people are signed up for the right courses that will help them develop themselves and function more effectively in their work role. Repeat training is unlikely to deliver a return on investment because employees won’t be learning anything new.

Offer refresher courses

While you don’t want to be repeating the same content, when training is detailed or technical in nature, there is a place for refresher courses that offer a condensed version of the material. Digital training platforms are very effective for reinforcing knowledge without cutting too much into an employee’s day. By using e-Learning, they can quickly read a few notes and answer questions to continually challenge their memory and recall of what they have learned.

While planning and implementation have an important role to play in maximising your training budget, one shouldn’t forget about reinforced learning. It is probably one of the most understated elements in L&D and plays a critical role in ensuring your organisation gets the best return on investment.

To find out more about ERROL the online training tool spearheaded by award-winning contact centre specialist Carolyn Blunt. Or if you’d like to talk more about getting the most from your training budget, contact Ember Real Results today.