As the end of a fiscal year approaches, you might find yourself in the situation of having extra money to spend. Or maybe you are at the opposite end of the spectrum scraping by until the new budget cycle begins.
Either way, it's important to make the most of your learning and development budget. Not only is it fiscally responsible, but your employees will also appreciate that you are going the extra mile for their professional development.
So how do you squeeze every last drop out of your learning and development budget before the end of the fiscal year? Doing so will help you hit the ground running when the new budget cycle begins.
Invest in Online Learning
These days, training does not need to come in the form of expensive conferences and online courses. When push comes to shove, you don't even have to feel the pressure to develop everything in-house. There are startups out there that provide training on demand that can be accessed anywhere at a much lower cost.
For example, Skillshare offers training on everything from web development to analytics and leadership. Classes are available on demand and broken into easily-digestible chapters. Memberships start at $99 per year, and team plans are available.
For the technical people on your team, Lynda is another great resource for taking deep dives into specific skills like web development and network security. Choose from individual courses or curated paths toward specific careers like graphic designer and IT security specialist. Again, team pricing plans are available.
All of this content is available online for viewing at any time and on any device. No need to worry about installing special software or worry about integration with legacy systems. The only investment you'll need to make is the cost of membership on whatever platform you choose.
The end of the year is also a great time to tackle a small project that requires minimal investment but can lead to more significant investment down the road. Huddle with your team to figure out which projects can be broken down into small chunks and tackled within a short time window.
You might not get through the entire project, but it can be enough to build forward momentum going into the new fiscal year. It's also an opportunity to score a small win that can pave the way for bigger victories down the road.
This approach will also help with planning for next year's budget. You can use the success of the small project to forecast future budget needs. Or, if you are in the situation where you are running out of money to spend, you can still accomplish part of a project and make a case for completing the rest in the new fiscal year.
Beyond online education platforms, there are a growing number of tools from a variety of startups that you can add to your L&D tech stack.
You aren't likely to find a full-fledged Learning Management System (LMS) but then again - do you really need to? You may find some tools to help you dig into data that you already have. You may find a Learning eXperience Platform (LXP) to help you deliver existing content in a fresh new way.
Do yourself a favor and Google some of these ideas during your lunch break. You may just find the next big thing for your organization.
With everything else going on at the end of the year, you might be wondering why it's worth investing the time or the money on learning and development. In the end, it all comes down to the "use it or lose it" principle.
If your finance office sees that you did not spend your entire budget this year, you are likely to receive a reduced amount in the coming year.
Beyond that, every dollar that you do not spend this year will go back to your organization, instead of into ideas and applications that can improve your team's performance. Your team members deserve to have every learning opportunity they can get, no matter how small it might seem.
Do you need an assist in finding the best way to spend your budget? We love talking shop - hit us up!
Words by Chad Bellin, Director of Products and Strategy at Mindspace
Art by Andrew Sullivan at Mindspace