Learning On The Job When Training Budgets Are Tight

Learning On The Job When Training Budgets Are Tight


Your needs vs. the company’s needs

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for formal training and think that organisations who set aside an annual budget for employee training opportunities are the ones who will KEEP their employees. I say dedication can be won when you give back to your employees and respect can be earned when you appreciate your employees. 

From the company’s perspective though, I also understand that it’s often hard to justify large training budgets when cashflow is tight or there’s a temporary lull in business. It can be rather easy to dismiss employee training and up-skilling as a lesser priority. 

How you react when your employee doesn’t train you

For most employees, the lack of ‘training opportunities’ can be disappointing and disheartening. Many organisations promise the world in the way of training and onboarding when a successful candidate first starts, but when it gets to it, there’s just too many things that need ‘doing’ around the office and not enough budget for everyone to go to the best training opportunities.

Think about it, has your request to attend a conference or get formal training of some sort been knocked back due to budget or conflicting priorities? I’m sure all of us have experienced this from time to time. 

How you SHOULD react when your company doesn’t train you

Take the power back in your hands. I’m of the opinion that we should NEVER stop learning and the point I’m making is that it is actually within your control to keep learning, because there are PLENTY of ways you can acquire knowledge consistently and regularly and without a hefty investment.

How you ask? Just by make it part of your schedule and your priorities. Sound too simple? Well, it is. Let me explain in the way of a story….

During a recent brunch with friends, one of them said she didn’t feel like she was being given the tools to learn more about her industry at the company she had just joined. She said the expectations were high and there wasn’t much support. Now, I’ve worked at organisations of various sizes, budgets and mindsets. I can understand why she felt that way because she had just moved from a large corporation to a small business, but I didn’t see that as a reason for her to contemplate quitting the job.

How to learn A LOT in just 1.5 hours a week

As I said to her, an individual can and needs to take the initiative to learn more about their industry themselves. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there at the tip of our fingers these days. Free e-news, Google, online magazines, podcasts, scholarly articles, you name it. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, if you’re hungry for knowledge and information, it’s readily available to you. All you need is a device, an Internet connection, perhaps earphones and a notebook and you’re all set to go.

This is what I have always done and I have always encouraged all my direct reports to do. 

Schedule it in

Listen to at least one relevant podcast a week, read at least one relevant article a week and subscribe to a free e-newsletter relevant to your industry. In a year you’ll have acquired over 100 different pieces of new and relevant knowledge from this scheduled activity and it will have taken up an hour and a half of your time every week at most! If you can’t spare that time at work, then do it on your commute, or during a bath, or if it’s a podcast, while making dinner. Just keep yourself accountable for doing it weekly. Not only will it increase your knowledge, if you’re passionate about your industry it will probably rejuvenate you as well.

Staying at the top of your game

Staying at the top of your game requires initiative, and adapting to circumstances. By all means, do not give up on asking for training opportunities paid for by your organisation, but don’t make the refusal a reason to sulk or sit on your hands and stop growing. For some it may not be imperative to their jobs that they keep learning new skills or keep up with the latest news in their industries. Perhaps your job is repetitive and that’s what you like about it, but for others keeping up with the latest in their industries is a crucial part of staying competitive amongst the talent pool within their organisation and increasing their potential or their prospect for promotion.