Podcast | Using Learning Budgets For L&D Impact

Gary Stringer
June 29, 2023
July 20, 2023

When it comes to learning budgets, you’re probably at one of two stages:

☝️You’ve given people a personal budget to support their growth.

✌️You’re not there yet! But you’re looking at ways to free up time, funds and resources.

Either way, this live podcast will give you the tools to build learning budgets and drive impact with them.

Join Boni​ta Matthee (Learning and Development Lead at Permutive), and Ulrika Hofman (People Partner at Scrive) to discuss the full learning budget journey.

From what to do before you offer a dedicated financial budget to rolling that out when the time does come and optimising the process for ROI.

Watch the episode

Listen to the episode

Running order

0:00 Learning budgets are more than money
5:31 Enabling managers to have better development conversations
9:23 Establish career goals and skills gaps
13:36 Using data and collaborative spending
18:19 What someone wants to do vs. what’s beneficial
21:39 The request process for budget spend
30:26 Building relationships with managers
34:25 Progression and learning’s relationship
40:45 Employer branding and talent attraction

Five lessons on using learning budgets to drive impact

​​1. Learning budgets are more than just money

“Not every business has this pocket full of funding in order to invest in every individual, but they are very dedicated to investing in them in other ways.” – Bonita Matthee.

This could mean:

  • Creating space and time for internal experts to run sessions that upskill others.
  • Understanding skills people have outside their day-to-day role and enabling them to share those.
  • Researching any external or government funding available to you.

Bonita believes those first two can have a positive impact on building a continuous learning culture and empowering people, and coupled with that external funding, gives you a strong foundation to pitch for dedicated learning budgets internally.

2. Drive awareness of your learning budgets and enable managers!

“We really want there to be a discussion between the manager and the employee to discuss the development areas and how that fits into the bigger picture…

“Training our managers to have those type of conversations to really help employees understand how they can develop…and leverage the learning budget to do so.” – Ulrika Hofman.

3. Problem discovery and establishing skills gaps are at the heart of ROI

A huge reason so many learning budgets aren’t used effectively is because there’s no clear goal – what are we hoping to accomplish by spending x amount?

But if we understand three things, we’ll stand a better chance of spending money on things that drive impact.

  • Establish which skills gaps exist.
  • Identify someone’s career goals and progression plan.
  • Work out the goals and problems our teams and businesses are trying to solve.

“Thinking of somebody’s career progression as well and what it means to them individually…

“Where are you? Where do you wanna be in the next couple of years? If we had to work backwards, what could stop you from getting that role and then going into a development plan that is based on that longevity.” – Bonita Matthee.

4. Empower teams to spend budgets collectively

If we’re really learning something that’s building a new skill or a critical one for future proofing us, it often involves taking us outside our comfort zone.

And if we’re solving team problems or collective skills gaps, group learning might be better.

That’s why Bonita allows flexibility for learning budgets to be spent collectively.

“There also needs to be a little bit of flexibility with the budget.. and what we have seen is some teams saying, let’s collectively pull this budget together and identify a way that we can upskill ourselves as a team.” – Bonita Matthee.

5. Share personal stories and takeaways after the budget’s been spent

“Something we’ve been doing in our team when we’ve been doing training and using the learning budget… we have sessions afterwards where we share what we’ve learned, so that other people get to kind of benefit from it. And those discussions get the social learning in as well.” – Ulrika Hofman