Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Training budgets, just another victim of the recession

As the economy continues to slide downward, more and more corporate training budgets are taking a big hit.

Most HR departments won’t be surprised by the results of a new survey providing confirmation that in tough economic times, employee training is many times the first thing to be eliminated from budgets.

Expertus, a learning-services firm, surveyed over 80 corporate and government training professionals from organizations of varying sized in 19 different industries and found that:

  • For 2009, more than twice as many respondents expect budget decreases rather than increases.
  • Almost half (48%) expect decreased training budgets in 2009, up from 41% in 2008.
  • Only 17% expect a training budget increase next year.

From the HR Executive Online story:

The findings didn't surprise Trellis Usher-Mays, president of Atlanta-based T.R Ellis Group, a management consulting firm that provides training services.

"Most companies are cutting training budgets," Usher-Mays says. "In learning organizations today you have to show a clear line of sight between training and positive business impact. Now is not the time to ask a C-suite executive to 'just trust us to use training money wisely.' "

Usher-Mays says now, more than ever, HR leaders need to fully understand the strategic business objectives of the organization to ensure that training dollars get approved -- and to make sure those dollars deliver the best return on investment.

"During times of plenty, you could get away with what I would call non-essential training," says Usher-Mays. "Not anymore."

But, according to Usher-Mays, there’s an upside to training budget cuts. With the focus on budget cuts, HR leaders are able to highlight the value of employee training, especially when it comes to compliance issues, forming a competitive business advantage and keeping employees engaged and growing professionally.

Among the training trends in a down economy, e-learning is making a strong appearance. For companies looking to save money without affecting quality, online and virtual training resources can be the best alternative to an in-person instructor.

Consider these cost-saving training options:

  • Video training. Rather than sending a group of employees to an outside training course that will include expensive travel costs, find a comparable video training program to bring in-house. For the cost of one ticket, you can train an entire room full of people.
  • Online training. Similar to video training, online employee training allows you to train many for the cost of a few and eliminates any travel expenses.
  • Shop smart. Use tools like TrainingTime.com to find and compare employee training programs that will work with your budget.

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