What if your CEO sent you a memo asking for this information: "What is our cost per employee for training/learning?"
Thank you for asking this important and relevant question to our company’s performance. Allow me to answer it in two parts, one related to training, another to learning, because I believe they are very distinct concepts, specially in regard of our cost structure.
Simply put, our training cost per employee results from the division of the total (budgeted) training cost by the total headcount in the running fiscal year. The former comprises the annual cost of my department, training and development, added to the total spent on support infrastructure, like the system our employees use to take online training. We call it LMS (Learning Management System). You can also consider in your financial assumption all training developed and delivered within the Business Units (BUs) by its own resources.
Now my point on learning costs: the ever changing characteristic of our market requires constant learning from all of us, from you the CEO to our 126 receptionists in our 50 offices. We all recognize the importance of improving our individual performance and how it impacts our business (internal evaluations make this very clear to us). We also understand that the company cannot train us all, all the time, as it would be prohibitively expensive. So we know we can learn by ourselves in an informal fashion by using company’s resources for that (meetings, access to Google, our internal radio, the magazines we subscribe to, phone etc). The cost of learning would be then the sum of all time spent into those informal activities.
2 final observations to help you with your financial assumptions:
1) Cost of informal learning can be easily confused with cost of internal communication. Is your Monday morning “Coffee with the CEO” meeting a communication effort or a learning effort? I see people saying they have “learned” a lot in those meetings.
2) (Lost) opportunity cost is one thing that my training folks and I always discuss in our online community at LearningTown.com. It refers to the time of our employees when they are training/learning instead of performing their job role activities (e.g. managing, selling on the phone, visiting customers, making our products etc). In this assumption, the 2 hours our salesperson spent on training should be summed to the total training cost. I know this is can turn into a long discussion among savvy financial professionals like you and John (our CFO), so I would let you decide which costs could be transferred to training as “lost opportunity cost”.
I hope this can answer your question, or at least clarify the cost discussion around training.