Are Free Corporate Training Materials Really Worth It?

Are Free Corporate Training Materials Really Worth It?
2 minute read

Many companies take corporate training seriously and devote significant monetary resources to ensuring employees are learning the things they must learn to do their jobs productively. According to the Association of Talent Development (ATD), organizations spent on average $1,208 on training per employee in 2013. Most companies feel this expenditure is a good investment, that better trained employees are assets that drive growth and profits. Yet, if there were a way to reduce that dollar amount and still be effective, wouldn’t that increase profits more? Wouldn’t turning to free corporate training materials make more sense than spending so much money?

On the surface, the answer would seem to be yes, but the issue runs much deeper than free versus costly. If the quality of training suffers, free can turn out to be rather expensive in the long term—companies don’t want productivity to suffer simply to save a few dollars teaching their employees to do their jobs the right way. Furthermore, many of these free training avenues aren’t compatible with the newest technology that is revolutionizing the way workers learn. The bottom line: A move to free corporate training materials is usually not worth it, and here are some reasons why:

Delivery Is an Issue

Free corporate training materials must first reach workers in order to be consumed. This isn’t an issue if every employee has a company email address through which you can send links and attachments. But for many employees, particularly ones on the front lines of retail or food service operations, this isn’t feasible, and managers might end up having to put a laptop in front of a worker to view the content (or, printing out the training content to be read offline). Furthermore, with free content and emails, there is no way to determine if an employee actually opens the link and views the files. Today’s tablet-based training platforms solve these access problems, delivering content to an iPad or Surface (without the need for a dedicated company email address), and charting what employees are viewing what files.

Content Must Be Customized

No two companies are alike, so the ways their employees train shouldn’t be alike, either. For example, a generic training video that teaches workers to use a spreadsheet program may yield useful information across the board, but it may also introduce processes not in place for a particular organization. The result is inconsistent corporate training that has employees handling things a dozen different ways. Customizing your content ensures that workers learn the things they must learn in the ways you want them to. And with the current wave of corporate training solutions, creating and distributing this tailored content is a cinch.

Weak Results

Tracking the effectiveness of free corporate training materials can be a challenge, at best. Because such content is not customized, measuring success or failure is difficult—is the training at fault or the employees when productivity suffers? Even without metrics, often, free training materials simply come up short. The savings companies hope to realize are quickly lost with content that employees don’t understand, don’t relate to, or just ignore. Organizations are better off choosing innovative training solutions that deliver dynamic materials in easy-to-consume formats.

What has been your experience with free corporate training materials?

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