Be the Hero on a Budget: Training your workforce for FREE!

In a perfect world employees would provide training for themselves and do it willingly. Workers would take professional development seriously and seek to keep digital skills current. Topics like communication  and problem solving would be on the tips of lips around the water  cooler. That isn’t the case today. So, are employers missing something? With so many options for online professional development the question has become: Why is training viewed  as an “employer only” responsibility?

Want to know the  answer? Cool. You have come to the  right place.businessman showing Try new things words underneath his shirtFor ever and ever (amen) the job  of training has been viewed as just that: A Job! Training is portrayed by many  employees as the boring  thing they are forced to do once every year. Training days usually consist of dull speakers, bad coffee, and a crowded break room. Many employees come in with  the “I’d rather  be at  the dentist” attitude. Why are they so turned off by  the prospect of growing and developing skills that can (and should) be put on a resume? Have employers made  them that  way? As HR professionals and managers, are we perpetuating  the belief that Big Boss owns them and wants nothing to do with conversation surrounding an updated professional resume building program for their employees? Have we sent the message that training  is the devil because we dread paying for it and complain openly about how awful it is to do this awesome thing  for our  workers?

Maybe the problem lies in a VERY old school way  of  thinking: “What happens  if I spend  the time (translation: money) to  train them and then they leave?” Perhaps it is even scarier to think of this objection in reverse. “What happens if you DON’T train them and they stay!” Please don’t think I am some Pollyanna that doesn’t get the  cost of doing business and managing employees. I truly do understand the challenges of maintaining a well-oiled workforce. A recent ATD (Association for Talent Development) article mentioned that  the cost of training an average employee is around $1200 to $1800 per year. When we lose a worker, replacing them may cost us three times their salary over time. That’s why I  have come up  with a plan! Get the employees to train themselves and make it their idea!

Here is my proposal. Read this  carefully, because you will need to understand exactly how this works.

  1. Provide all mandatory training to your workers as per the law. Pay them for their time and supply the training in a legally acceptable format. Examples: OSHA, Sexual Harassment, HIPAA.
  2. Negotiate an arrangement with an elearning provider. Let’s say an average annual  price for training online is $389 per person per year. You negotiate a lower price per worker since you will be supplying a certain volume. (e.g., $249)   Remember: Your workers need individual accounts to track personal training progress and receive credit for the training they have completed.
  3. Now, divide the annual fee by 12. This gives you a monthly payment for each your workers. Our example of $249 would now equal $20.75 per month.
  4. Propose to your workers a great new voluntary benefit. Build your skills. Stay here with us and grow. We want you to succeed – no matter where life takes you. Our commitment is to you and to our customers. By  taking care of YOU we can better serve THEM! Professional development is time consuming and costly. Maybe you take evening classes at the local college. Maybe you attend trainings out of the office that puts you behind for the  rest of the  week or month! We understand and have worked to provide a benefit that you will reap even if you decide to move on from our organization.
    • The benefit of a voluntary payroll deduction of $20.75 per month, $9.58 every two weeks or $4.79 each week is all it takes to have the training available at your finger tips when you need it. What a deal!
    • Many workers choose voluntary benefits like AFLAC and never even need use the coverage. (Thankfully) But, offering them an avenue of building their skills and creating options for their professional futures is a benefit many workers will benefit from immediately.
    • They get this great deal because they work for you!
    • BONUS: They can also enroll family members at the employee rate. Spouses, Children and grandchildren will all benefit from the forward thinking generosity of the company that is YOU!
    • You may even choose to split the cost with them. A great way to increase buy-in and enrollments.
    • OR, Get your training through a non-profit provider with tax deducible donation status. Training fees may be viewed as a donation to the charity allowing the employees to take a write-off at tax time!
  5. Understand, this is not just some big gimmicky sales pitch you’re offering up to get workers to pay  for  their own training and development. The entire organization must have a mind-set shift in order for this to work. We truly need to be happy for  our employees when they grow and improve. Maybe we reap those wonderful fruits. Maybe we lose that valued worker to a competitor. Either way, the best interest of the worker was ultimately served.
  6. Now that your sincerity is clear to the whole organization and your buy-in is likely high, you can move  to the next level of holding contests for departments with the most training completions in a given time period. You can incentivize workers with a pizza party. Allow the winner to leave early on a Friday or even a cupcake with a graduates cap on top! Assign ‘continuing education points” to courses and allow these points to be cashed in for prizes or time off with pay. Small gestures mean a lot to workers and when one worker sees another receiving the accolades competition may spark. (But,in a good way.)
  7. Annual reviews will also note classes or tutorials completed and no worker will ever be made to feel beneath another for not choosing to participate. That would be illegal and just wrong.
  8. As the administrator for your organization, you may have access to the completion records of each worker. You can send them internal system email suggesting courses they might enjoy.

Now, here is a little bonus information to consider when choosing a provider.

  • Find a provider with THOUSANDS of videos, tutorials and courses.
  • Make sure the skills addresses relate to digital skills, software tutorials, communication and other soft skills, compliance training, and other technical skills.
  • True Continuing Education Units are nice, but not mandatory for the bulk of your population.
  • Andere Foundation is a charity that trains abuse victims and survivors of domestic violence. The Andere Academy has over 6000 courses and tutorials in its library. They are often willing to make arrangements of this nature with employers of all sizes.

We all know that training is necessary. We all realize that traditionally employers pay the way. However, in today’s world of individual opportunity, we are allowed to think inside the  box. Yes, you read this right. Use the tools that are sitting right in front of you. Opportunities abound for employers that are willing to open the tool box and ask, “Hmm. I wonder if I could use this tool to do this job in this way that very few people have ever considered?” By taking old ways of thinking and re-purposing them (or repositioning them), you will succeed in developing a strong, smart, well-oiled set of workers. Bonus: You will be the Hero on a Budget!


Lisa Smith

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Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Seminars, LLC and Chief Content Developer at BeAuditSecure.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more from her in Audit-Secure Authority at BeAuditSecure.com.

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