You wake up in the middle of the night, flip the light switch, and – miracle of miracles – the light comes on. The power company maintains a “base load” on the grid for just such occasions, and it is indeed a miracle. As the day begins a huge coordinated team starts bringing more electrical generation capacity on the line to brush your teeth, brew your coffee, and perhaps power your ride to work. But for the quiet overnight hours there is still a small power plant humming away, ready to take the load.
If your company has the luxury of a dedicated training department, they are your human capital power plant. They probably host a variety of courses throughout the year. They put a fine polish on technical or soft skills, help save minutes during the holiday rush, and develop people for the challenges of tomorrow. They also probably maintain the “training base load,” those compliance courses that absolutely must be taught if the company wants to stay in business.
As a training manager, it is helpful to know exactly how much of your time and budget must be dedicated to the base load. Across your catalog, where do you draw the line? Certainly, compliance training is on the list. What about on-boarding? Harder to know, especially if your hiring cycle is unpredictable. Technical training may make the cut, especially if there is a cyclic requirement, such as annual proficiency training. Finally, those “fun” courses, like conflict mitigation, communications, strategic planning, and meeting management, which can probably be cut (in the short term) without much fanfare.
Last week we audited your various rule books. This week, take some time to analyze your course catalog and define the impact.
- Base load courses: compliance and any other training mandated by law. How many times do you convene each year? How many staff hours are spent preparing and delivering for each convening? What other materials must be purchased and prepared for each class? Calculate what percentage of your annual budget goes to maintain the “base load.”
- Refresher and proficiency courses: same drill as above – who teaches what, when, and how much does it cost in time and materials. The resources spent here directly offset lost work and potential injury. It is good to know this number when the executives come calling.
- New-hire training (both on boarding and technical skill): this can be the thorniest variable depending on your workforce. Some industries with high turnover spend a lot of time with this category.
- Company-specific “mandatory” training: who teaches, what, and when – do the calcs. (Can some be eliminated? Outsourced? Streamlined? Converted to less expensive or distributed delivery?)
- Elective training: all those nice-to-have courses. If you are “fat” in this are, can you justify the continued expense? If you are “lean”, can you justify additional support, balanced against the rest of your categories?
With your new course audit in hand, it will be easy to answer questions when the budget folks come looking for cuts. Solid numbers can make training look like a good bet. Perhaps more important, knowing which percentage of your catalog is non-negotiable can help keep those light on all year long.
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