Is training an investment or an expense?

This classic question continues to challenge accounting firms, legal practices, financial service advisories, and all professional services firms as they seek ways to grow and innovate. Training can appear to be an expense because it registers as money out the door. Yet the signs that training might actually be an investment – by providing a return – are harder to see. Staff go to training, but the benefits are not immediately apparent.

Many traditional forms of training don’t help the situation because there is often little to show at the end of the training event. Training usually feels like a one-off ‘event’ with no or little follow-up, no chance to refine and improve it, no ability to re-use the content (without considerably more expenses) and no tracking of change to measure the return.

Face-to-face or instructor-led training also often involves several very real expenses – room hire, travel costs, food and beverages, printing workbooks. These are sunk costs with absolutely no return, and are often taken out of a training budget, while not directly contributing to staff learning.

An online training platform as an investment

So with traditional training, we have a single ‘event’, with no permanence or re-use value, attached to several expenses which do not directly result in any training benefit. No wonder most training looks like an expense. However, that’s where employee training software can turn an expense into an investment.

An online training platform addresses several of these expense issues. It presents a much stronger case for treating professional services training as an investment. Let’s consider how employee training software can benefit your professional services firm.

An online training platform creates a journey of learning, not an event

An online training platform changes learning from a ‘big bang event’ to an ongoing journey of learning that offers:

  • Smaller and more frequent training. Staff who spend even a half-day at a training workshop make an investment of 4-5 hours of their time. Chances are, they forget a lot of the early content by the end of the session. Time is wasted with breaks, ice-breaking activities and setting up physical elements. Online training focuses purely on training – there is almost no time wasted on travel, set-up, breaks or anything else. An online training platform can take that same 4 hours of workshop content and distribute it via smaller 20-40 minute modules over a series of weeks.
  • A modern online training platform can provide automated training reinforcement via email summaries, online journals, peer sharing and on-the-job activities. At literally no cost at all, this automation can reinforce key content to staff and encourage long-term change in their behaviours.

Together, these features allow an online training platform to dramatically boost learning retention and behavioural change, which results in a better training return.

An online training platform makes self-paced learning available 24/7

When they explore an online training course, professional staff can more easily manage training needs with their immediate work-in-progress. This allows them to reduce the expense of training and accelerate the returns.

  • Go at your own pace. From a learning perspective, an online training platform provides far greater control to each staff member. If staff don’t fully understand the material, they can repeat content to clarify issues. If everything is making perfect sense, they can move at a more rapid pace through the course. This simple ability immediately makes better use of your staff’s investment of time.
  • Access at any time. Employee training software makes cloud-based learning available 24/7. New staff can start induction programs on day one, without having to wait 6 months for the next set of workshops. Existing staff can address development areas immediately after a performance review. New processes, product knowledge, compliance issues or service standards can be shared with your business in days, not months. An online training platform reduces the ‘time to productivity’ for any staff member.

An online training platform eliminates wasted learning expenses

Finally, having improved the speed and size of the return on a training investment, an online training platform can also reduce the size of the training investment. Instructor-led training or physical workshops have a huge inefficiency in training expenses. An online trianing platform allows you to:

  • Eliminate expenses without a direct correlation to training returns. With an online training platform, you remove any travel expenses, food and beverages, printing expenses and training room hire.
  • Reduce or eliminate expenses for the creation of training content. While there is a cost in developing or buying training content for your online training platform, that same cost exists with any form of training. However, those costs are also directly correlated with training returns. With a great knowledge sharing platform, you can even eliminate many of those costs too as you tap into internal expertise within your business.
  • Share training expenses over a wider group of staff. An online training platform also provides better scale in training. The training content you develop can be utilised with 5, 50, 500 or 5,000 staff with little extra cost for each additional staff member. As a result, the average cost to train each employee falls as the investment is shared over more staff.
  • Share training expenses over a longer time period. There is also a far higher degree of permanence with an online training platform. Training content can be reused over years as it is not dependent on any single facilitator or person to deliver it. Employee training software can also quickly update training content, to help maintain its usefulness for years. This allows the training investment to be spread out over years, instead of a single day.

Better and faster training returns, with a reduced training investment

Once we start to think about making training an investment, we can see that an online training platform becomes a viable solution. An online training platform can…

  • Improve training return by increasing knowledge retention via more smaller, more frequent training, as well as driving behavioural change through automated follow-up.
  • Accelerate training return by allowing staff to align training requirements with their work-in-progress, and complete training immediately, at a pace which suits them.
  • Reduce training costs by eliminating expenses without a direct correlation to training, as well as reducing content creation costs (especially via a knowledge sharing platform), and sharing expenses with more staff over a longer time period.

The result is a higher return, delivered faster and with less cost. That’s the power of an online training platform. When that platform is also a knowledge sharing platform, like Tribal Habits, then the return increases and the expenses reduce even further.

With Tribal Habits, you can develop engaging training content by tapping into the proven expertise in your own firm. Transform your business by capturing all your top ideas and best practices, and use that knowledge to power online learning. Your staff can engage with content that is proven to already work in their business. This involves ideas, case studies and examples which are 100% relevant to their roles.

What’s more, it can all be created and managed by anyone – you don’t even need a training manager. Available 24/7, in a secure cloud portal, branded to your firm, for just a few dollars per person per month. That’s no expense. It’s a small investment with a massive return, just waiting to help your business achieve its strategic goals.