Have your employees asked you to pay for outside training so they can do their jobs better?

Before you say yes, make sure the training will end up benefiting the company, as some employees may be asking you to fund skill building that will help them land jobs elsewhere, said Peter DeVries, chief operating officer of business software provider Destiny Solutions.

DeVries said that when employees request outside training, you should ask them to write a small proposal answering the following questions:

  • How will this training affect your current projects or role?
  • Is this training part of a larger learning goal (e.g., a certification or degree)?
  • Can you describe how you researched this course or education provider to demonstrate that the content is useful and cost-effective?
  • Are you willing to present to your peers a summary of the key learning outcomes from this training?

"This is simply a pragmatic approach ensuring that the employee is not just looking to take any training, but training that provides value to them and, hopefully, the company," DeVries said.

DeVries said that based on his experience, there are always two practical outcomes of training that immediately benefit the company, regardless of the specific request. The first is that training allows work experience to be paired with best practices or formal methodology.

For instance, good training permits employees to match what they are doing with what they should be doing, based on a body of knowledge, DeVries said. The second outcome is that the employee can come back to the firm and present one of three outcomes: "watch what I learned how to do," "I've validated how we are doing things" or "we need to change what we are doing."

"Any of these responses can be incredibly valuable to an organization," he said.