When Training Becomes an Expense


We have all heard the references to the training function as just an expense, that it is not a revenue source for the company.  Thus with this sage wisdom prevailing, is it any wonder that when business starts to decline that another familiar phrase is invoked, that the first thing to go is training.

I was speaking to a training manager this week who seems to have stopped dead in her tracks because “school is out, vacations are starting, and we won’t be training for a couple of months.”  I wanted to respond with, “so what?”, but instead I asked what she and the training team does during these slow times.  She responded, “not much.”  This was an honest answer, and yet the beginning of the end.

The training function does cost money to run, duh.  Every function in your company comes with costs, so it is all a matter of giving back to the company in revenue, or expense reduction that at a minimum recoup what your department is costing. If you are spending two months performing “not much” work, then you really have to bust a gut the other 10 months just to make up the loss.

I prefer to manage and encourage training managers to operate training functions that are returning on the investment all the time.  A solid strategy, plan and implementation schedule will deliver results, but you must always be capturing how training improved the operation, prepared people to perform their jobs quicker, or how an internal department is more cost-effective than outsourcing.  Even during summer vacation, there are activities that can be a productive use of time.

The Training Physical is a perfect way to check the current health of a training function.  Obtaining an early diagnosis of a terminal illness allows you to save your department from the chopping block.  And regular checkups allow you to make modest changes so you are always returning on the investment.

So when does training become an expense?  Every single day they are not returning on the investment.  Every single day they stop doing their job!

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