L&D – How wisely are you spending your money?

In this two minute HR Blast I wanted to touch on the thorny and emotive topic of money…equally relevant for those in HR with responsibility for L&D, as for L&D professionals.

To start with let’s take a brief look at e-Learning, coaching and mentoring before talking more generally of how you might spend your money. Information taken from the CIPD 2014 L&D survey.


2014 was the first year we started to see a drop in e-Learning provision, but at the same time research shows that spend on training technology is steadily increasing year on year. In addition, most would agree we have yet to see smart technologies used to their full potential.

Some questions: Have you thought through the implications of a reduction in e-Learning, but at the same time an increase in spend on training technology? What would a review of the use of smart technologies for training in your organisation reveal? What will this all mean for your HR and L&D departments? Do any of the following apply?

  • Does your L&D team have the skills to make this transition?
  • Who is brave enough to say that some of the organisation’s recent e-Learning programmes have maybe not delivered?
  • Does compliance training deliver anything of value in your organisation, does it perhaps demotivate staff at times, is it something L&D departments’ are proud of, does it really protect the business in the way people have suggested it does and if it does not, is the spend justified? Is it time for a review of how compliance training is delivered?
  • What is the link between spend and genuine development of skills necessary for the organisation’s success? Do you assess how skills (or behaviour change) is developed against the different costs of different training programmes/events?
  • Is it better to spend the budget you have on programmes you may know are not great but that deliver training for thousands (or hundreds), or better to spend the limited budget on tailored training for just a few?

Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching and mentoring is, year on year, becoming more popular. 10 years ago it was unheard of other than at very senior levels, but now many companies offer it. What’s your organisation doing about coaching and mentoring? Have you got this in your sights yet?

However, despite it being popular, in recent years CIPD research has found that perceived effectiveness of coaching by line managers is dropping. Currently 32% say that line managers’ coaching is effective, whereas, in 2011, 51% said it was effective. The CIPD report comments “research found that many organisations reported their leaders lack coaching and mentoring skills”.

Interestingly though, when asked to select out of a choice of 16, the three learning activities that they view to be the most effective, the top three answers were coaching (46%), in-house development programmes (35%) and mentoring and buddying (28%). So, clearly, there’s a need for it!

A question: What are the opportunities and challenges here for your organisation? Here are a few initial ideas that might prompt your thinking:

  • More effectively training up managers as coaches (or providing training to those previously untrained)
  • Providing training for mentors
  • Putting in place formal coaching and mentoring schemes
  • Educating the whole business about changes in L&D trends and the value of coaching and mentoring
  • Evaluating the return on investment of coaching and mentoring

Median Annual Training Budget

The median annual training budget per person in the UK was £286 in 2014, down from £303 the previous year. For information: median figures (see CIPD 2014 learning and development trends) vary by sector as follows: public sector £238, manufacturing £255, not for profit £314 and all private sector £378

Some questions: What exactly are you spending in your organisation and are you spending your money wisely? Assuming your per head spend is £286, how can you get the most out of your budget? Here are a few of our ideas:

£286 could buy your employee…

Training products

  • Between 20 and 40 good personal development or knowledge development books
  • Numerous training apps downloaded to a smart phone
  • A tablet (or ‘cheapish’ smart phone) with various apps and books uploaded for learning on the go
  • 1/3 of a training game purchased from a training products company


  • 10-15 hours of one to one support from a supervisor/junior manager
  • 10-15 hours support/coaching from an internal L&D person
  • 5 hours with an internal mentor (of a senior level)
  • 2 days in house training (or
  • 4 days in house training with matched funding -is your HR team tapping into all available sources for matched funding of training?)
  • 8-12 e-Learning modules/licenses
  • Unlimited free internal lunch ‘n’ learn (or similar) sessions with employees sharing knowledge with each other
  • Travel plus accommodation to visit a sister company/site


  • One term of a weekly night school course
  • One day of external training on an open course
  • The deposit (if you are lucky) on an MA or MBA course
  • 1 day external training (if you choose your training wisely)
  • Attendance at a one day external conference
  • Unlimited free webinars
  • 1/4 to 1/8 of a training simulation purchased from a training products company

…and to ensure your training monies are spent wisely, here are a few other ideas we have:

  • Is your L&D budget focussed too much on one thing and not being spent across a wide enough variety of services and products?
  • Has your organisation (or your employees) become course centric – nothing less than a days classroom training will do!
  • Imagine what an amazing personal development library you can develop if you spend one person’s budget on buying 40 or so books each year.
  • To make the most of learning using apps across all genders, all ages, all areas of the organisation – is it worth investing in time to identify and then communicate to everyone the great apps?
  • Are webinars a bit ‘hit and miss’? Do your L&D people identify and recommend webinars or is it left to everyone to sort themselves out? What are the repercussions of a laissez faire approach?
  • Do staff see what their training actually costs? Do you summarise for them how many paid working hours attending training they have benefitted from during the year and how much it has cost?
  • When evaluating training, are staff asked to assess the value of the training without full (or any) knowledge of cost? If so, is your evaluation process working as well as it might?
  • Do your L&D staff have sufficient skill with numbers and analysis of information to actually do an analysis/evaluation, or is extra support required with that (a bit of mentoring from someone in finance perhaps?)
  • Before you spend on any further L&D, would your organisation benefit from a full Training Needs Analysis of your HR and training department, given how massively the training industry has been changing in recent years?
  • Does the structure in your L&D department reflect your changing needs and requirements?
  • Does the skill set of your existing L&D staff reflect what you need?
  • Do your L&D (and other organisational) leaders have the skills to lead a modern L&D department? (If not, is it time to develop the skills of your valued leaders before developing the skills of others?)

Sources: CIPD Learning & Development Resource Summary, 2014 Training Industry Report

This HR Blast has been written to provide you with some food for thought in the area of investment on training and development. We could have written so much more but then it wouldn’t have been a 2 minute Blast! However, we hope that just by flagging up a few issues it will have prompted some thought in your organisation.

If you would like to explore any of these areas with us then please do get in touch!

If you would like training on Coaching Skills for Managers we have the perfect product for you! Click here. If you decide that before going ahead, what you really need is for certain staff to be more questioning or more creative then an alternative training product that might help is our Developing Independent Thinking Skills Bag of Learning. Training materials ready for you to use within your business with no per head license fee. Call us on +44 (0)1425 479888  or email us for more details.

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individual matters.


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