Four Steps to Create a Winning Case for Employee Training

One of the biggest areas of resistance toward employee training comes from an unexpected place.

It’s not always the employees themselves who are hesitant to engage in a culture of learning.

It’s the C-suite.

High-level executives tend to be reluctant to embrace an emphasis on employee training, and it’s often up to training managers and HR professionals to convince them it’s a worthwhile endeavor. This can be particularly true when a company is considering a leap to a new style of training—e-Learning for example.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 10.46.31 AMIf it’s up to you to lay out a business case for employee training, it can be tricky.

These are four steps you can follow to simplify the process. These steps apply across a variety of industries, and they’re not only valuable for making the case to internal C-suite executives but also other employees and stakeholders.

Define Training As the Solution to Actual Problems

When you’re approaching the concept of training, the first step is to look at real problems faced by your employees and your organization.

For example: a high turnover rate, a lack of engagement, low productivity.

Drill down to the specifics as much as possible. Show where your organization is lacking or displays shortcomings.

Once you identify gaps, you can begin aligning training as a solution—again, be specific when making the connection between the idea of problem and solution.

Demonstrate What Will Happen Without Training

When you’re building a strong business case in favor of a new training initiative, it’s vital to not only show what can happen with training, but also what will happen without it.

For many C-suite employees a sense of comfort or familiarity drives behavior, at least in terms of training and developing employees.

While there may be gaps in skills or knowledge that can be addressed, if there’s a sense it’s not that problematic for organizational performance, executives are unlikely to be willing to take action.

As you build your business case, highlight not only the effect of the gaps presently but how these are likely to expand and become more glaring in the future. By taking this approach, it will allow you to strengthen the idea of training as a problem-solving mechanism.

Crunch the Numbers

When you’re defining problems and positioning training as the solution, you’re relying on more abstract concepts. Once you have those elements in place, build your business case around the cold, hard facts.

Demonstrate to company executives what success and failure will look like in terms of the numbers. Let them know how the success of training will be measured, what metrics you anticipate will be achieved, and how these will compare to the cost of launching or revamping a learning initiative.

When defining metrics for success, link them to your company’s overall strategic goals. This is where you can get broader. Show how training will not only serve as a problem-solving tool but also as a robust strength-building resource for the company as a whole.

If you’re introducing the idea of using a new delivery platform such as e-Learning, this is a great place to explain the cost differential compared to classroom training.

Your ultimate goal should be to remove the idea of training as an expense and replace it with the concept of training as the best investment in human capital.

Create a Campaign

Just as you would create a campaign for a new product of service being offered by your company, consider doing the same for your training program.

Build a marketing campaign targeted at not only C-suite executives but everyone within your organization.

Start communicating the value of the training initiative, build buzz around the program and show everyone from the top down how it will have an impact on the company and their jobs.

Start this process by branding your business case in a way that’s going to make training sound exciting and enticing, and then surround this branding effort with a strong marketing campaign.


CFOs, CEOs, and high-level executives are not likely to support any program framed as being an expense, particularly if they see it as unnecessary.

As you strive to create a compelling business case for new or updated training consider this.

Work to show that training will lead to a positive value in terms of results and make it about the numbers.

It’s a difficult prospect since it can be a challenge to quantify the effects of training on human capital and things like job satisfaction and engagement, but it’s not impossible. Find places where there is data to apply, and work from that starting point.

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