As organisations continue to seek ways to do more for less, resize and remove layers in the structure, employees are taking on more tasks and additional responsibilities that require the need to learn new skills in order to get the job done.

Yet when budgets are being cut and cost savings need to be identified, the training budget is usually one of the first things to be slashed.

So how do you ensure your employees learn all they need to, increase their performance, and still find ways to save money and save less on training and developing your people?

Let’s look at six ways to increase the performance, skills and abilities of your people without breaking the bank:

1) Introduce shadowing

Shadowing or on the job training is a great way for employees to learn new ways of doing things from other people in their team or wider organisation and can be of great benefit to new and existing employees.

Not only can this increase skills, knowledge and abilities but it increases communication and collaboration and is great for identifying new ways of working, and more effective ways of doing things.

We lose 80% of what we learn within 9 days when we don’t implement it immediately and so on the job training is not only cost effective, but it allows the learning to be embedded immediately.

2) Internal secondments

If someone is looking to learn a new skill or further develop one of their strengths, then working in another business area can be a great way of helping them do this.

Customer service training for can be best learned from some other team members that excel in delivering customer service to your real life customers instead of looking at hypothetical situations in a training room.

This can work in any area of the business where practical skills need to be learned such as management accounts, budget setting, IT systems etc. It’s also useful if you have different branches or geographies as each of these will have different ways of doing things and potentially their own unique culture. Understanding this can give you a better understanding of the wider business as well as learning new skills.

3) External secondments

Many organisations are great at looking inwards but not as good as keeping an eye on what is going in other organisations, other sectors or even looking at competitors. There may of course be times that you won’t want other people to know anything

about your IP or to potentially access some of your sensitive and confidential information, but working in another organisation for a period of time, (or even having employees swap organisations for a while), can be of great benefit to both organisations.

Perhaps you need one of your team to learn a new system and the system provider may need to learn more about HR/OD/Marketing/Customer Service etc. see if you can find a way to bring the skills you need into your business, whilst at the same time learning about the culture, effectiveness and ethos of another organisation and vice versa.

This can give you an edge, show just how much you value and trust your employees, help to retain talent, bring new skills into your company, and not cost you a penny.

4) Let your people learn in their own time and in a way to suit them

Most employees want autonomy in their roles, to do their work their way and to manage their own workload and many organisations have the environment to allow this, but when it comes to learning, we tell people where to be and at what time and the wonder why the attendance rate is low or non-existent and why training adds little value to actually increasing performance and therefore adding little or no value.

When you need to learn something new or find out how to do something where do you turn most often? Google.

Why? You want to learn something quickly to help you with the task in hand at that moment.

By allowing your people the autonomy to learn what they need when they need it in a way to suit them, not only does this save time, but it also saves money. Let your employees buy books and claim back the expenses, have a suite of courses available online that they can dip into when they need it, have a learning directory of all the employees who have a particular skill or strength that they can share with their colleagues, let people book their own courses, or arrange their own secondments to give them what they need to know. And with so many free podcasts, Ted talks, online tutorials that you can access for free, why wouldn’t you encourage this.

5) Forget a one size fits all approach

So many workshops and programmes follow the same structure of death by PowerPoint, a group exercise and then feedback and then the same process is repeated throughout the day/programme.

A lot of what is taught is hypothetical and rarely relates specifically enough to the role of the individual.

This one size fits all approach can costs tens if not thousands of pounds a year and yet adds little value to the organisation. What’s more, it doesn’t meet the needs of all of the learners.

Introverts for example may not feeling comfortable speaking up in the room, whilst Extroverts may hog the limelight. Auditory learners may switch off if shown too many stats and images. Kinesthetic learners may not learn a thing in a show and tell type environment.

Allow your people the choice of how to learn, what to learn and when to learn it and move away from the one size fits all approach.

6) Learn, do, repeat

Just because someone has been on a course doesn’t mean they will have learned anything or will be able to implement it immediately. It can take us 11 attempts to learn something new and yet so often we expect people to perfect things on their first go. If we then criticise them because they can’t do it, they will often give up, where’s the value in that course gone!

I doubt you learned your alphabet, or times table or to ride a bike on your first attempt. Give your people the time and space to learn, do repeat (get it wrong a few times) and then repeat. And let them learn, do and repeat until they get it right.

These six ways are sure fire ways to allow your people to develop their skills, knowledge and ability whilst increasing their performance and decreasing your spend.

Let us know your thoughts and comments below and if you can think of anyone who may benefit from this article then do share it with them.

Kelly Swingler

Kelly Swingler is Founder of Chrysalis Consulting, an HR consultancy who are doing things differently Kelly was appointed as the UK’s Youngest HR Director, holds a BSc in Psychology along with her HR, OD, Psychotherapy and Neuroscience experience and qualifications and is currently studying a PhD in Organisational Change. She is mum to twin boys, and loves Yoga and cycling.

This post was originally posted on the Chrysalis Consulting website on March 15th 2017.