Hacks to Stretch Your Minimal (or Nonexistent) L&D Budget

In this article, we’ll take a look at some practical and effective ways you can stretch your training budget without compromising beyond your comfort zone.

Published on 16 January, 2017 | Last modified on 21 October, 2022

In this article, we’ll take a look at some practical and effective ways you can stretch your training budget without compromising beyond your comfort zone.

Free is Not Always Best when it Comes to L&D Budget

We have all faced the same problem at one time or another. The L&D budget has been slashed or is nonexistent, and all external spending has been reduced to an absolute minimum.

As frustrating as this situation can be, a lack of budget doesn’t have to mean that all training comes to a standstill. It just means a little creative thinking is required. In this article, we’ll take a look at some practical and effective ways you can stretch your training budget without compromising beyond your comfort zone.

Prioritise and Plan

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and this is certainly the case when it comes to a meager L&D budget. Prioritise the most important training first. This should include operational essentials such as health and safety training, compliance training and induction training for new staff.

Beyond these essentials, you can start to pinpoint the training that is going to have the most benefit to the business and the individual. Arranging your essential training as soon as your new budget has been released will give you a good idea of how much you have left to spend on ad hoc training for the rest of the year.

Look Beyond Pricey External Training Solutions

When times are good, as far as profitability and L&D budgets are concerned, it can be easy to be more frivolous with your training spending. With more money at your disposal, you have the luxury of booking external training at the best locations, organising training for entire teams and arranging bespoke training. It’s only when budgets are tight that you need to consider a different approach.

If a need for specialist training has been identified, it is no good saying, “We’re not doing that this year because we can’t afford it.” The need still exists and should be accommodated as much as your budget will allow. Instead, look at alternative training methods, such as self-paced study and training videos. Expert-led, on-demand training, for example, is a budget-friendly way to keep your employees’ skills finely tuned.

Pay Once for Training Materials You Can Use Time and Time Again

Bespoke, branded training materials cost money, but if you choose a designer and a training expert wisely, you will only have to pay once for training materials you can use over many years. Think of training materials as assets. Beyond the unavoidable element of depreciation, the more you use a training resource, the cheaper it becomes. From training manuals to training videos, investing once in training might hit you hard today but bring you big savings tomorrow and beyond.

Look to the Freelancers

Freelancers can often be a much more cost-effective solution than using big L&D consultancies. It is definitely possible to find good consultants in the freelancing marketplace without compromising on quality. To find some of the best consultants in the business, ask around, look to specialist freelance trainer websites and always check credentials.

Relying on freelancers can also provide value in conveying more specialised topics. Bringing in Subject Matter Experts who have hands-on experience with what they are trying to teach can provide real life examples to strengthen your training curriculum.

Find the Mentors Within Your Organisation

Mentor programs are a great way to transfer skills. By looking inward rather than outward to find the right trainers, you can often discover some great L&D resources and opportunities in the form of your own staff. People learn more by doing, and by using mentors and coaches within your organisation, you’ll empower staff to share their knowledge and minimise your training costs.

Prioritize and Plan Your L&D Budget

Free is Not Always Best

There are many free training resources on the Internet, but you need to remember that anybody can publish material online; just because they can, that doesn’t make it good. The key is to look for evidence of real quality in the form of testimonials and real-world results. Look for the training resources that have had real time and energy invested in them and that are going to offer tangible value. Also, beware of using free training material illegally. It may be tempting to photocopy that training manual or publish that training video on your intranet, but it’s theft; you could pay highly for your actions.

Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle

The marketplace is teeming with training companies today, and such a high level of competition can put you in a great negotiating spot. There are also a number of price comparison services that will help you find the same course for less, gain access to those special offers, and get the best training at a bargain. The new year is often a good time to go in for the kill and haggle for a better price. Just because a training course is advertised at a fixed price doesn’t necessarily mean that price is set in stone. Ask for a volume discount if you have many staff members who need the same training or suggest holding the training on your own premises to save on staff travel and hotel costs.

Just because you have been allocated a minimal or practically non-existent budget shouldn’t mean that no training happens. By thinking about L&D in broader terms, investigating avenues you may not have considered before, and looking internally for resources, you could stretch your budget farther than you thought possible and expose your business to new and effective ways of learning.

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