Employee Training: Outsourcing vs. In-House
If you keep employee training in house, you ensure you retain control over the development of that training. On the other hand, by outsourcing, you avail yourself to having these services provided by people who haven proven expertise in educating employees. So, which is the best choice?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons behind each option. Hopefully you will walk away with some useful insights that will help you make the right decision for your organization.
Making Learning Most Effective
There are several ways to approach employee training. There is e-learning, classroom based training, webinars, seminars, self-directed learning, and more. You can read about the benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing vs. keeping these in house downstream. However, it’s also important to point out some general pros & cons when it comes to outsourcing training or keeping training in house.
One benefit of outsourcing training is that if you select the right company to train your employees, you are giving your people access to people who know how to train. That’s something that is separate from subject matter expertise.
For example, your best salesperson doesn’t necessarily have the training or talent to teach others how to sell. They may not have the ability to keep learners engaged, recognize when their message is not getting through, or how to measure understanding. They may not know how to pace training or design instruments to assess skill level before or after training.
An experienced, professional trainer likely has those abilities. Even better, they likely come with training materials and methodologies that have been proven effective.
That doesn’t mean that outsourcing training is always objectively better. First, there is the very real possibility that the aforementioned sales pro does have those talents. It may also be worth the investment in training that sales pro so that they can develop those talents. It’s also important to consider that an employee in the position of training others has a much better understanding of company culture, values, and branding and may be in a better position to reach learners than a consultant.
Outsourcing Vs. in House in E-learning
If you are considering keeping E-learning in house, you may want to consider the following pitfalls:
- The cost in both monetary and human resources in creating and maintaining an effective e-learning program can be significant. You may need to consider whether or not any benefits that you will derive are worth that. Content customization may not be worth the expense in many instances.
- Developing an e-learning program requires specific technical expertise in addition to writing the content of the training materials. Is hiring a person who is qualified to do this and keeping them on staff a smart investment? Is training an existing staff member a smart investment?
On the other hand, there are definite benefits. By keeping e-learning in house, you can individualize learning paths, instill branding into e-learning, and communicate to employees that you believe investing in their education and development is a priority. Once you have your e-learning system in place you will also be able to adapt more quickly when it becomes clear that changes need to be made. This could be the result of employees indicating overall dissatisfaction with training, organizational growth and change, or regulatory changes driving a need to modify e-learning materials.
Outsourcing Vs. In House in Classroom Training Programs
There are three potential approaches to classroom training programs. These are keeping training in house by using an employee in an onsite classroom, using an employee to lead classroom training at an offsite location, outsourcing training by bringing in a professional instructor, or outsourcing training by sending employees off site to a location provided by the firm.
There are definitely benefits to keeping classroom training in house. This is especially true when the training involves mission critical topics. It may not be worth the investment to bring in a training consultant, educate them on existing policies, procedures, and best practices, then have them design a classroom training program.
On the other hand, outsourcing classroom or other in person training can absolutely be the best choice. This is especially true when the subject matter is not mission critical, but is very important. Safety training is something that definitely falls with this category. Safety is extraordinarily important, and often is tightly related to regulatory compliance. A company such as CNB Safe that offers workplace seminars and toolbox talks on location is going to be a better choice than developing safety training on site.
Outsourcing Vs. In House in Development of Training Materials
Employing training doesn’t just consist of e-learning and in class/in person training programs. Part of developing an employee learning system is the creation of a knowledge base. This includes manuals, reference guides, instructional materials, and more. These materials can be online, in print form, or both. They exist to give employees access to information on company policies, procedures, specifications, and best practices. They can be used to supplement training new employees and employees who are entering new roles. They also act as a library for employees to reference when they are unsure of the best action to take in a given situation.
There are clear benefits to outsourcing the creation of knowledge base materials when the materials are related to non mission critical yet very important information. Similar to the safety example above, there are areas where there simply isn’t a subject matter expert on sight, and where it makes no sense to hire one. For example, it’s nearly always wise to outsource the creation of training materials in areas that relate to:
- Human Resources And Employment Law
- Compliance With Government Regulation
- Topics That Could Involve Knowledge of Law or Where There is Potential For Liability
- Environmental Concerns
On the other hand, many of the training materials and knowledge base items on these topics are frequently readily available for purchase or for free. They don’t require much customization. You would definitely need to balance what value a professional trainer could add. If there are very specialized needs then paying to have training materials created and customized could be a good investment.
When training materials are mission critical, involve branding, or define best practices, it’s almost always best to keep things in house. After all, who is better suited to create training materials than experienced team members who have a solid understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and who understand the company’s branding and overall mission. In house is usually the best option when it applies to:
- Customer Service Training Materials
- Operational Policies And Procedures
- Training Materials That Are Specific to Individual Teams or Departments within an Organization
There is no definitive answer on whether or not employee training should be kept in house or outsourced. The answer depends on many factors. First, does the company have the resources to do the training in house? Does using a firm to design and conduct training add value? Are there employees available who are qualified to conduct training? If not, are there benefits to hiring or training someone to do that job?
By answering these questions and considering the points mentioned here, you should be able to come to the right decision.