Using your training budget wisely is key to controlling your training spend.

It was encouraging to read the ‘experts’ views in the Caterer in response to the question ‘Can hospitality businesses afford to cut training spend?’ (News analysis, 22 May), and I would not disagree with any of these comments.

However, for the 51% who were reported to be planning to cut their training budget they might first want to look at how wisely they are spending their existing budgets.

Firstly, we need to recognise that every line manager too has a role in training; that it’s not all down to formal courses or the training department. This starts with an accurate identification of the (training) need. Simply because someone is not able to perform a particular task to standard doesn’t always equate to a training need; so many businesses just throw money away by nominating people from programs that with the best will in the world would never resolve the problem. And assuming it is a training need, how well is the individual briefed beforehand so that they have a clear picture of what it is they should be taking away from the training?

When the training is conducted by a third party i.e. someone other than the line manager, we need to be aware that in order for newfound skills or knowledge to be transferred to the workplace individuals might then need further coaching and/or support from their line manager.

Secondly the business as a whole needs to recognise the role that line managers have in the training and development of their staff. This means that the bottom-up approach will seldom be effective.  Even if the junior ranks are trained, without the backing, guidance, support and coaching from those above them it will be an uphill struggle for them to implement their training.

Formal training, as well as eating up training budgets is often not as effective as on job training, not least due to the inherent logistical problems, particularly with the shift patterns operated in so many hospitality businesses.  But in order for on job training to take place the people who do need training are those line managers, mentors, buddies, and coaches who will be implementing this. Giving them the skills first can make not only for a more cost-effective way to train but provides excellent development for those involved in delivering or supporting the training.

Finally, to make best use of training budgets businesses must measure the return on what they have already spent. No business in their right mind would continue investing in an area of training unless it was paying dividends, but how many businesses make the effort to measure how effective training has been? In its simplest terms this is asking the question ‘Did the training achieve what we set out to do?’

So if businesses are serious about looking to save money on their training, maybe they should first think about the most cost-effective way of delivering it and ensuring they are gaining value and a return on that investment.

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