Funds are not available to send employees to training, but training is needed. What options are there? How can I learn more about my field of work without spending money?
The economy has put travel, conferences and training on hold, creating an unexpected opportunity to throw out the old model of learning and replace it with one that really works.
Neuroscientists have found that our brains learn most effectively when training is broken into small chunks. HR Magazine’s award-winning March 2008 cover story, “The Brain at Work”, points out that a series of 1-hour workshops spread over time would result in a dramatic increase in learning retention when compared to a traditional eight-hour day of training.
Here are six low-cost or no-cost options for training your employees and deepening your own expertise, with the added benefits of being easier to schedule during working hours, and building your professional network of colleagues, leaders and mentors.
Set up a learning exchange within the team. Schedule a regular coffee, lunch, or a conference call to share knowledge gained in previous trainings. That conference or training you paid for your employees to attend last year? Ask them to pull out their notes, review what was learned, and teach it to their colleagues.
Lunch ‘n’ Learns
Task an employee with scheduling a series of lunchtime workshops. They can create a workshop in their area of subject matter expertise, and invite colleagues to do the same. Or they could invite leaders or experts from within your company to present.
Find a speaker who is marketing a book or program. Invite them to present a workshop, teleconference or webinar to your team in exchange for raising their profile in your organization.
Volunteer as education coordinator for a professional association and you’ll get to choose the speakers.
Submit a proposal to be a speaker or panelist at a conference. They may or may not pay for your travel, but most will give you your registration.
Many organizations offer training programs in webinar format, and there are numerous options under $100. Buy a registration, and gather the team in a conference room to watch together. Follow up with a discussion on how to apply the principles in your work environment, or meet a few weeks later to review progress.
This is also a great time to engage a mentor (or two or three) and encourage team members to do so too. Here are some tips from a previous column. http://anitaborg.org/news/archive/ask-jo-12
As you and your team make the most of cost-free learning opportunities, you will foster a culture of learning. With all these options to explore you might never go back to paying for training again.