Training & Learning

Defend Your 2023 Training Budget By Choosing the Right Priorities

We're sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your training budget is at risk. 2022 was a marked departure from what we were expecting after a year when almost half of organizations significantly increased their investment in employee training. But a new reality is crashing down on companies, and there's a darn good chance you'll have to defend your 2023 learning and development budget—and soon.

With global economic growth continuing to slow in 2023 and business leaders anticipating a recession in the coming 12 months, CEOs, CFOs, and finance teams are preparing for tough times. Even though upskilling and training have proven benefits to employees and organizations, slow growth is often met with tighter purse strings.

How can you make sure you have the necessary resources to train and upskill your teams to meet the challenges 2023 may bring? You need a clear set of priorities to get executive buy-in for your training budget. You must define your non-negotiables because one thing is certain: most companies will be asking L&D teams to do more with less.

Training resources have become more of a strategic issue for L&D teams than ever before. To secure the resources you need, you must set your priorities and pick your battles before negotiating with your leadership team.

You must define your non-negotiables, because one thing is certain: most companies will be asking L&D teams to do more with less.

So, which non-negotiables should you prioritize? In 2023, we recommend every L&D leader focus on three critical areas: operational training, upskilling, and collaborative learning. Let’s look at these three priorities in more detail.

Do More With Less Cover

L&D budget conversation? Nail it with these talking points.

1. Focus on operational training as a revenue driver

In the face of economic uncertainty, operational training—learning that improves your teams' competencies so they can excel—can serve as a company's backbone by stabilizing and growing revenue while reducing training costs. Employees who are up-to-date on industry best practices and internal procedures are best poised to stay focused on the bottom line and contribute to the organization's success.

For example, ensuring your sales teams continuously learn about product features can help them sell to new customers more effectively and prevent high-value customers from churning. If you can keep your existing clients happy and confident in your service, you're far less likely to lose them during a downturn.

This type of training creates an environment that encourages growth. L&D can be a powerful lever for employee retention by allowing employees to develop the skills needed to advance their careers. Not only do you keep your people happy, but your organization also gains institutional knowledge in the process.

Operational training is also a cost-effective way to train employees. Your current team's knowledge can become the foundation for your L&D program—you just need the resources to tap into it. Most hard-won knowledge and operational expertise live within your company. Training managers must collaborate more effectively with internal subject-matter experts using new tools and systems to speed up training content creation.

A collaborative learning platform helps learners share this knowledge via courses or discussions and gives peers the same learning advantages. Ultimately, this learning cycle leads to better problem-solving and higher productivity, boosting your bottom line.

2. Use upskilling to retain more employees

Over the next year, many of us will have to do more with less, which makes upskilling a vital part of your training initiatives. Budget cuts or downsizing can't stop your business from operating, so your organization has to keep its upskilling programs alive. 

L&D is also uniquely positioned to increase employee retention through upskilling. With 74% of Millennial and Gen Z workers looking to leave their current jobs by 2023 because of a lack of skill-building opportunities, you must protect your upskilling efforts.

Over time, upskilling your existing employees also saves you a lot of money. The process of recruiting and hiring is time-consuming and costly, as opposed to upskilling, which is more cost-effective, faster, and less disruptive. According to corporate talent expert Josh Bersin, hiring from outside can cost as much as six times more than building from within. This fact alone should make keeping your upskilling initiatives intact an easier sell.

Most hard-won knowledge and operational expertise live within your company.

3. Continue the shift to collaborative learning

Your training methods need to adapt to new content consumption habits. The ways employees learn have fundamentally changed thanks, in part, to streaming services and on-demand entertainment. To adapt, L&D shifted its focus from day-long instructor-led training to self-paced microlearning courses and mobile elearning. In 2023, you need to continue investing in collaborative learning, which is designed to cater to today's training needs and deliver people-driven, engaging learning experiences.

And if you're not creating accessible, short-form content already, your training programs need to catch up to this shift to remain relevant and practical. Sticking to old-school, top-down training is not only ineffective, it's a missed opportunity to create a better social experience for your team. That includes strengthening their sense of cohesion and identity outside of their regular meetings and to-dos. Collaborative learning is crucial for keeping morale and team spirit up, especially when challenging situations arise.

Get started on your 2023 training priorities right now

If you haven't had a training budget discussion with your leadership yet, it's likely coming soon. Don't wait until the last minute to organize your training priorities for the year—set aside time right now to go over what worked and what didn't, and have your non-negotiables list ready before the conversation takes place.

It's also helpful to gather quantitative and qualitative data showing how your learning activities helped increase performance and retention. Having hard evidence to support your decisions will help you make a stronger case for your programs.

Setting your 2023 training priorities can be challenging, but we can help. Get in touch with our team or join our global L&D Collective. Our active community is a great place to get valuable insight and answers from other L&D leaders who are dealing with similar challenges and can provide guidance and advice.