Getting the Best Return on Your Training Budget

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Getting the Best Return on Your Training Budget

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Before answering the question of what one should budget for continuing education, it should be emphasized that this is likely the only line item in your operating budget that will produce a direct positive return on your investment. As you examine your line-item expenses, you’ll see that most are simply costs related to ongoing operations.  

So, how much to budget depends on your goals. 

If your plan is to simply do what you’ve always done and provide just enough budget to meet minimum requirements, then you can likely get away with as little as a couple of hundred dollars per employee. Yes, we know of budgets even lower, but those are mostly fictitious numbers — they don’t include all the real hidden costs which are allocated elsewhere. Regardless, if you’re budgeting for minimal cost, expect minimal results.

The goal of any employee education budget should be to invest in your employees and your operations, to achieve maximum return. It’s simply a matter of budgeting more to get a better return. In 2022, on average, companies spent a bit over $1,100 per employee for education. This might be a good guideline to use as a starting point, then adjust to your needs. If you see weaknesses that need correcting, bump it up a little. If everything is going well and your staff is well trained, perhaps you can get away with a little less. Be honest with yourself in setting the budget and include things like travel, per diem, time off and replacement labor, etc., in your cost calculations. If the number seems to grow to meet those costs, remember that this is still the line item most likely providing you the greatest ROI and it’s usually a good idea (and common sense) to put your money where it will provide the best return. 

This discussion would be incomplete without at least a brief mention of allocating that budget. A guideline here might be to invest one-third in an online core curriculum (like Water Otter’s online program providing unlimited courses), one-third on supplemental specialty training (specific to your facility, a specific job, or perhaps exam prep), and one-third on peer-to-peer training and mentoring. 

Finally, the success of any employee education rests in the hands of management. As with all aspects of your business, success comes through setting achievable and measurable training goals, leading by example and rewarding performance.  

Water Otter offers a complete program of continuing education, and we invite you to join our thousands of members nationwide. In the meantime, thanks for what you do every day to protect America’s most precious resource: our water.

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