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An innovative approach to learning and development

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Caroline Mboijana, Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U). 

Dear Caroline, I work in an HR team made up of four team members and my role is to be responsible for learning and development. In the last year, our organisation has had to cut its budget and training is the first budget line to be cut. I have been tasked to find creative ways to ensure that training continues within the business. How do I do that without a budget?


Hello Stella, please rest assured that the predicament that you are in is not new. In many organisations, when budget cutting begins, training is always the first to be cut. That said, given where we are, there are possible solutions that you can introduce. The Covid-19 years and post Covid did have some benefits, including thinking creatively about how people learn and enhance their skills. One solution is to rethink learning. The picture of sitting in a training room with its advantages is costly. You have to pay for an external facilitator, staff being away from their desks, and the cost of food and beverages.

The new way of learning, especially for adult learning, is self-learning. What is critical is that you help the learner identify a suitable course. The courses may require payment, but they are platforms that provide free online learning. You will need to do some research on what courses are available, and it is important the content addresses the goals of the business goals.

An alternative approach is to start having internal learning groups of five to 10 members of staff, who can be from different departments, especially if you have learning for cross-cutting thematic themes such as leadership or customer service. In this format, the learning goals are agreed upon and each person is allocated a topic to research and is then tasked to share the research with the team.  Another approach, especially if the learning is technical such as project management or quality assurance, is to identify a strong member of the team to conduct the learning content and then facilitate the learning intention.

Please remember that these alternatives must be tailored for adult learning, so as the lead for learning and development, you may want to provide a best practice guide to potential internal facilitators so that the basic principles are reflected in the learning. Please also remember that you have set up KPIs that will measure the effectiveness and impact of the learning. While you are not physically “paying money”, you are taking staff off their desks, so the costs of “removing staff” off their desks must be less than the benefits of the training.

It is important that the benefits are realised in terms of improved performance, engaged staff and an improved culture that embraces learning and growth. Good luck!

Caroline Mboijana,Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U)  [email protected]