January 2014 | Commentary | Smart Moves

Creating Meaningful Logistics Training Programs on a Budget

Tags: Education & Careers, Labor Management

Michelle Benjamin is CEO, Benjamin Enterprises and TalentReady, 800-677-2532

Training costs are often among the first budget items to be reduced or eliminated. Smart companies, however, recognize the vital role logistics training plays in keeping their teams ahead of the competition, and choose to manage their training budget carefully.

To effectively manage training dollars, every department should distinguish between essential and recommended training. Essential training might include government-mandated certification courses that are required to satisfy regulatory compliance. Never eliminate these courses from your training budget.

Your list of recommended training courses, however, should consist of programs that enrich your team's logistics skillset, or support your company's growth in a new market or industry. These courses are critical to your company's success, but the cost should be tailored and monitored to meet your budgetary goals.

Keeping teams positioned for near- and long-term growth on a shoestring budget can be challenging. Here are four steps to help accomplish this feat.

  1. Look outside your organization. Companies often try to create training programs using internal resources. While this may seem like a way to stretch dollars, it can have the opposite effect, especially if the internal team isn't knowledgeable about the subject. Looking to external sources for existing training programs is more cost-effective and time-efficient.

    Reach out to local community colleges to see what courses they offer, or if they would be open to teaching the course on-site at your facility. These courses are often less expensive than taking the course through a dedicated training provider. Most community colleges also offer online training options, which allow for greater flexibility, resulting in higher participation.

    Another possibility is contacting your peers at other organizations to share resources. Perhaps your company has a warehouse safety training program, but needs to schedule a course on workplace ethics. By reaching out to your network, you may find a company with a workplace ethics program in place that could benefit from your safety course. By trading programs, both companies benefit while spending little, if any, of their training budget.

  2. Identify the delivery method. Course content drives the delivery method. For instance, forklift certification training needs to take place in person, following a pre-defined course schedule, with access to equipment, and an area to perform the required exercise. But anti-harassment training could be offered to employees via a variety of methods, from scheduled in-person classes to online courses.
  3. Schedule the course. Consider the potential attendees, their work schedules, impact to the business if they are attending training, and time of year. Avoid scheduling training during seasonal spikes, or peak holiday and vacation times. Many logistics operations employ a two- or three-shift workforce. Include course times or online options that accommodate these workers.
  4. Request and act on feedback. Distribute a course evaluation form after each class to solicit honest feedback from attendees. Consolidate the feedback, look for trends, and incorporate it into the next training plan.

    An effective logistics training program doesn't have to break the bank. Be creative and think of alternative methods. By networking and offering options, you can ensure that your logistics workforce is trained, certified, and compliant.