How to start a corporate training program for next to nothing

Bringing on new team members is always happening when you have a grow business. You have to bring on sales reps, account managers, marketing help, and maybe even some operations guys to keep everything running smoothly.

And you have to train your staff members, too. Sounds like a ton of work!

When you’re investing thousands of dollars into payroll, there’s not much left to properly train your growing team. Simply put, you make do with that you have and see where the gaps are.

That’s where being resourceful and frugal come in handy.

There are a ton of free resources on the web to get you started. But, as I’ll argue below, your training may not even have to make it to the internet. Your training material might just be sitting in front of you.

Here’s five strategies to jumpstart your training for cheap:

1. Have 1-on-1 meetings (Free)

Training doesn’t have to fall under learning new skills and reading books. It may mean improving emotionally and personally. At the root of personal improvement is the ability to speak with your manager or boss 1-on-1. Why? Because your employees are more likely to let you know what’s truly going on in their head when it’s just you and her – not a group of coworkers.

2. Cross-train other departments (Free)

Have you thought about your marketing employees spending a day in the sales department to see what they do for the day? This helps forge better partnerships and collaboration between areas. Plus, it helps team members learn new skills and explore moving horizontally through your organization.

3. Use the power of collective knowledge (Free)

Your team knows a lot about various subjects. And what they know may not be in-line with your employee training vision, which is fine. But, give team members a chance to show their passions, their love for something other than work, and allow others to learn from them. Whether it’s learning to play the guitar, build a MySQL database, or learning to play cribbage, it’s still training. Not only does it build morale and your company culture, but it’s a unique way to better one’s self.

4. Invest in online training (Free – $100/month+)

You can learn anything on the internet. And it’s inexpensive. When you wanted to learn something, you typically looked for a course at your local library or found a class at your local community college. Problem is, they cost thousands of dollars. Luckily, the internet has solved this problem with online training. You can learn anything from design skills to world history, and how to build a business.

Here are a couple of tools for your learning pleasure:

5. Buy Kindle books (Free – around $20/book)

Monthly book clubs are the “in” thing to do if you want to build a company that loves to learn and improve. Pick a book and have the team gather for lunch to discuss what they gained from the book. Empower your employees to make book suggestions, too. It always feels good to be part of the decision making process.

Just because you wear suits and ties to work doesn’t mean you have to blow thousands of dollars on a corporate training program. There are plenty of free and low-cost ways to bring your team to the next level.

Let’s review the list:

1. Have 1-on-1 meetings

2. Cross-train in other departments

3. Use the power of collective knowledge

4. Invest in online training

5. Buy Kindle books

Now, it’s just a matter of getting started.

As I mentioned in my last post about how to find the perfect employee, you have to start small. Taking on any training initiative is a lot of work – regardless if it costs $100 or $10,000. And you want to make sure you’re going to do it right.

Here are five questions to ask yourself before starting a new training program:

1. What do you hope to gain from the training?

Write down 3 – 5 goals or objectives. Maybe you want to get your team trained on Google AdWords or how to use the new forklift. Whatever it may be, get goals written down on paper and let the team know what you’re looking to accomplish.

2. Who needs/wants training?

Some people don’t like training. And some crave self-improvement. Survey the team to see who wants to participate. But also recommend training and certifications to other team members who you believe it’ll benefit. They’ll be happy to improve their skills. Plus, it builds a better relationship with your team.

3. What resources do I have available?

Check to see what’s available. Do you have any books around the office? Or how about team members willing to teach a class? Survey what you have in-house before you purchase a large training package for your company.

4. What will the training system look like?

It seems many corporations have systems for everything. And training is no exception. Get a plan together. How are new team members on-boarded? What’s the training look like over the first year of employment. How do you build a resource library for veteran employees to explore? Take a couple hours to build your company framework. That way everyone knows where how to access everything.

5. How will I evaluate my company’s training program?

It makes sense to continue training initiatives if they’re working. Plus, it helps if they’re beneficial to your team. But, what does success look like? How will know you if your training program is working? A couple of ways to measure could be team engagement, skills improvement, or employee surveys.

Once you’ve been able to answer these questions, you’ll have a better idea of how to build your program. And remember, what you set up now isn’t a permanent solution. Programs can change with the needs of the company.

Have you trained your employees on a tight budget? Let me know in the comments below.