10 Tricks for Cutting Training Costs

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It may seem that the costs that go along with hiring a new employee mostly have to do with the cost of her salary or the work necessary to find her. But the costs of getting a new hire up to speed in your business are not insignificant — making it important keep a good grip on those costs wherever possible. These ten suggestions may be able to bring your training costs down for any new employee that you bring in.

1. Have a Plan in Place

Especially in smaller businesses that don't need to hire new employees regularly — or that are hiring their first one or two employees — training is just expected to happen. You get the new hire into the office and show her how to do everything that you do over the course of a couple of days. But that haphazard approach to training can be costly, at least in terms of the time you're spending on the project rather than on what you really need to be doing. Having a clear training plan lets you go through the process quickly and efficiently.

2. Put Your Employee Manual Online

The cost of printing a new employee manual for every new hire, along with updating it in the future, is one that can be avoided entirely. By using a tool such as Google Docs, you can provide everyone with the most up-to-date version of your employee manual available with no printing costs.

3. Provide Employees with Reference Manuals

Especially when you expect new employees to learn a complex tool or piece of software, it's useful to give them reference manuals. If employees have a clear guide to turn to, you don't have to provide them with absolutely perfect training. They don't have to get every detail right in the time you set aside for training because they can refer back to manuals when they have a question.

4. Stagger Training Days

Your new hires will need training far beyond what it takes to get them into the swing of things now. That makes delaying a little of their training possible, since you'll likely want to get your team members in the habit of thinking of how they can keep learning and improving their abilities to do their jobs. You will need to know exactly what your employees need to do their jobs immediately and what can be delayed, however.

5. Standardize Your Processes

It can be harder for small businesses to establish a standard way to handle every sort of task, but the more you can create a set of processes your employees can always follow, the faster you can get them trained. With a list of standard approaches in hand, new hires may even be able to reduce the number of questions they have to ask you to get up to speed, while still reducing errors or potential problems, because they can refer to your documentation.

6. Team Up with Other Employers

If there are other companies in the area that use the same software packages or tools that your company relies on, bringing in a trainer for that tool can become more cost-effective. Sharing a trainer can bring down the cost while still getting your employees ready to work with you. While you may not feel comfortable teaming up with your competition, there are likely businesses in other industries with at least a little overlap in their training needs.

7. Choose Lasting Training Materials

If you can find training materials that you'll be able to use long-term, you can eliminate costs that go along with either spending the time to train a new hire personally or to routinely buy new training materials every time you have bring in another employee. The biggest pitfall with training materials is with technical tools and software packages. If you update your tools, you may need to update your training materials as well. Taking that factor into choosing tools can help bring down overall costs.

8. Appoint Mentors for New Hires

A large part of training for new hires is really a matter of orientation, rather than adding to their skill sets. By having someone in the office that your new employee knows she can always turn to, you can reduce her dependence on learning how the office operates by rote and speeding up the process. A mentor can also answer questions as they come up, an important consideration in a business that doesn't have a full-time human resources staff to answer questions.

9. Consider Outsourcing Training

As long as your company's processes are fairly standard, you may be able to outsource at least parts of a new hire's training. While that approach can have a sizable upfront fee, it's likely less than you would spend piecemeal (in both time and money) to train your employee yourself. It's not necessarily the simplest option for every company (getting your approach to different tasks standardized can be costly, depending on your industry) but for some businesses, it's the right fit.

10. Return to Your Plans

Your business will change over time and what worked when you first started out may no longer be a good way to keep your training costs down as your company evolves. Taking a look at the strategies you use regularly can help you catch potential issues before they start tying up more of your money than really necessary in your training program. The same holds true for planning training beyond the initial orientation your employees need. For your employees to be able to move forward, take on new responsibilities and help your business to grow, you need to routinely revisit what you're doing to further educate them.

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