Are You Flushing Your Training Budget?

Published 02/11/2020



As reported in Training Magazine, U.S companies spent $87.6 Billion on training in 2018. However, research by Dr. Brent Peterson of Columbia University suggests that 80% of your training dollars could be being wasted.


Dr. Peterson's findings show that:


·     Pre-learning event activities represent 26% of learning effectiveness

·     Learning event activities represent 24% of learning effectiveness

·     Post-learning event activities represent 50% of learning effectiveness


However, Peterson’s research reveals that companies invest:


·     10% of their training budgets on pre-learning event activities

·     85% on learning event activities

·     5% on post-learning event activities


If we examine these numbers, the most jarring fact that jumps out at us is that although companies spent 85% of their training budget on the training event itself, those expenditures reflect a mere 24% of the training program's effectiveness. Additionally, even though 50% of any training effectiveness is attributed to follow-up activities, only 5% of most companies' training dollars are spend on post-learning event activities.


Furthermore, research from Josh Bersin and Associates concludes that:


·     70% of learning occurs on the job

·     Only 10% of learning occurs during the training event (20% occurs prior to the event)


As examined in an interesting article in SSWM (Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management) "Follow-up is essential in all training situations as it provides participants with further support and skill development. Also, follow-up improves existing trainings as well as future training plans. The lecturers get a feedback on what the participants actually learned during the training, whereas the participants have the opportunity to reflect on their learning a second time".


As part of the article's Executive Summary, the author, Stefanie Keller (Ecosan Services Foundation), lays out the pros and cons of follow-up training.




·     Determining the learning outcomes of the training

·     Assessing the results and reinforcing the key points

·     Providing the learners time to reflect on their learning

·     Getting useful feedback which supports future trainings

·     Determining what kind of retraining is needed




·     Requires time and resources investment

·     Participants may not be willing to contribute to the follow-up after the training

·     Difficult to set up when people meet only once and have no further connection to each other

·     Difficulties to capture a comprehensive follow-up when it is only possible by mail


Before we get hung-up on the disadvantages, I would redirect you to the figures reported in Training Magazine, above.


We shouldn't need to address the argument of cost, considering the findings that post-learning event activities represent 50% of learning effectiveness.


Regarding participant willingness to contribute to the follow-up activities, it is up to the supervisors or HR departments to explain the need, and to ensure that all levels or management are fully supportive of the follow-up.


There are many ways to provide follow-up. Click here to see some examples.


Investing in training is critical to any company's success, but spending the money can too often seem like a crapshoot. With planning and strategy, it doesn't need to be.


If you would like to learn more about how to get the most bang from your training buck, our professionals at ASN are ready to help. Just give us a call.