Money’s too tight to mention

So, who has budget to spare to spend on training?  Come on, a show of hands is all I need.

Thought not.  It’s a real challenge at the moment to get value from L&D interventions.  I mentioned this a while ago when I posted about time management training and the challenges in supporting manager inspired interventions when I had doubts over its effectiveness.

With the squeezing of budgets, I’ve had to look at our offer and how we can still support the needs of the organisation, teams and individuals.  With this in mind I identified the need to make learner-led self-supported learning more prevalent.  This is one reason I am creating activities such as the comic book.

So, diminishing budgets, a need to create learner led interventions and develop learning delivery competencies across a group of keen but untrained Subject Matter Experts.  What I came up with was the concept of 52 minutes.

I’ve worked for a range of different organisations and the budget for L&D activity has ranged between anything from 2%-6%.  For a UK employee earning the median gross salary this equates to between £518 and £1558 per year that could be allocated as training spend.  You might get 2 x 1-day training courses for that.  For an organisation that has an internal L&D department, this figure would need to be reduced to take account of the cost of internal trainers, Learning Management Systems, etc.  For the purposes of our work, I assumed a rate of 2.5%.

For an employee working a 35 hour week, 2.5% of their time equates to 52 minutes.  So, instead of cash value, give the employee the value in time.  My hope is that this 52 minutes becomes a ‘learning budget’ for each staff member.  At a monthly review, the staff member and manager would agree how the 52 minute learning spend could be allocated for the next month.  This could be any activity that will support the employees learning.  Activities I’ve seen have included items such as:

  • Attending a meeting not normally attended to understand the dynamics of a different management group
  • Completing an elearning module
  • Completing a comic case study
  • Creating an exercise for a team meeting
  • Sitting with a colleague to learn a system issue
  • Watching 3 x TED videos

The list above isn’t definitive and doesn’t even scratch the surface of what someone can learn in 52 minutes.  At the next 1-1, the staff member and manager meet to discuss the effect, impact, and benefits of the interventions (evaluation?).  The pair then agree a further range of activities and the cycle continues.

The 52 minutes doesn’t have to be split into 4 parts – if the staff member needs to create a 104 minute space, it rolls over 2 weeks.  By asking managers and staff to think about time, we start allocating a different value to learning; we regularly hear how time poor we are and prioritising learning time elevates it above the usual liner interventions we are asked to create.

There’s a benefit in working with my SME too; I can set a clear limit for the MAXIMUM time that an intervention should be.  It helps our elearning design by placing clear constraints; the most an instructional element, exercise, test and evaluation can be  is 52 minutes.

I was asked by a manager ‘what if the staff member can’t think of anything?’.  Simple…book the 52 minutes out to work with them and use it as a coaching opportunity.

This isn’t a policy or procedure.  We’re trying to create an ethos and the 52 minutes supports our plans to make learners more responsible for their development.

I love receiving comments on my articles and keeping the conversation going.  Please let me know your thoughts in the box below.

6 thoughts on “Money’s too tight to mention

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