So you’ve found a great professional development course, or a way to upskill your CV, but your workplace has no formal training budget in place. Tricky. Most companies now acknowledge the benefits of employee training, but there are still a few holding out. The good news is that EOFY isn't the only time to chat to your boss about setting aside some budget for professional development.
Remember, all managers have budgets, and EOFY is usually the cut-off point. They either spend it or lose it. If there’s any money that needs to be allocated before the end of the financial year, training and development is a great way to spend it. If you've missed the EOFY, now is the perfect time to start planning for next year!
Here are some tips for how to talk to your boss about training.
1. Do your research
Before you pitch a development opportunity to your manager, you need to anticipate certain questions. The first things they’ll ask are: ‘What is it?’ and ‘How much does it cost?’ You should thoroughly research your chosen course beforehand. Learn the course fees, the semester timetable, and how the study hours will impact your current role. Be clear about the learning outcomes and how those outcomes could be beneficial to your job. This bit’s important. Will the new skills make you more efficient? Help plug a skills gap for your company? Remove the need for an external hire? Study your competitors, too, to see how they’re handling employee training. If your company’s policy is lagging behind, ask them why.
2. What’s in it for the company?
It’s best to frame upskilling and training as a win for the company, as well as your own career. If your manager hasn’t already got training budget set aside, they’re going to want to understand the return on investment. There are plenty of stats to help you here. Studies have shown that professional development opportunities help boost staff retention, improve job satisfaction and increase professional loyalty. RMIT Online’s own research indicates that many Australian employers are now investing in staff training over recruitment – and the switch is paying dividends. Of 600 we businesses surveyed, 95 per cent of companies said that they, as an employer, received a direct benefit from staff training.
3. Start with an email
How you approach your boss will depend on your working relationship, your office culture, and your own personal style, but putting something in writing is always a good start. This doesn’t have to be a formal request for funding. You could simply send an email pointing out that you’ve identified an upskilling opportunity, and you’d like to chat it through in more detail. Link to the course, so your manager can read more about it, and maybe summarize a few key points: the length, the time commitment, and the cost. Don’t forget to proof your email once or twice before sending. Typos in an application for training budget are not a great look.
4. Be confident in your value
This is a tricky one for some people, but you’ve got to be confident in your value as an employee. If you’ve been with the company a while, start by writing down your major achievements, any big successes, and how you’ve already developed your skills. This will give you leverage and a strong bargaining position, when the time comes to negotiate training budget. Don’t forget to identify how this particular course will benefit the company and your role. Will it make you faster. Will you be able to work across disciplines? Does it cover a relevant skills gap? Is it something your company’s competitors are already doing?
“If I wanted an organisation to invest in me I would probably look at what I could bring to the table in terms of either growing revenue or cutting costs to cover the cost of the training,” says leading career development coach Danette Fenton-Menzies CPA.
5. Don’t forget soft skills
Soft skills (sometimes referred to as enterprise skills) like leadership, communication and creativity are valuable for a reason: they can be applied to almost any role in almost any company. Aptitudes like collaboration, persuasion and emotional intelligence have been topping LinkedIn’s skill rankings for years now. As Indeed says, “Hard skills show off your experience and understanding of a particular, measurable ability; soft skills often indicate your ability to work with others and grow within a company.” This is a valuable commodity! If your role requires stakeholder management and good communication, which most of them do, don’t be afraid to pitch a less technical course (like Digital Leadership). If anything, your manager will appreciate that you’re looking to expand your skillset and improve company culture.
6. Share your knowledge
One great value add that a lot of people forget is that, once a skill exists within a company, it can be shared. This is a great way to get your manager over the line when it comes to EOFY training budget: offer to share your new skills, or knowledge, at the next team meeting. Bring your colleagues along on the journey. “Demonstrate a strong return on investment by showing how your new ideas can be applied across the entire business,” says Fenton-Menzies. Share your learnings on Slack, or create a short Power Point presentation upon completion of your course. You might be surprised by the enthusiasm for learning in your workplace.