Best practices

6 tips to cut online training costs without compromising engagement

How to cut online training costs - eFront blog

Digital courses are a stock-in-trade solution to expensive seminars and workshops. So how do you cut costs on what is already pre-packaged as a budget-friendly measure? More importantly, can you achieve this without compromising employee engagement?

How to cut online training costs without compromising engagement

The main way online training courses minimize expenses is by eliminating the need for transport, venue, food, and board. This could be for the instructor if they’re coming on-site, or for corporate learners, if it’s happening outside the office. They also reduce seat time so that you can devote payroll resources elsewhere, given that employees are able to pick up the information more rapidly by applying it in real-world activities.

But even within the eLearning sphere, you sometimes need to tighten your online training budget belt. How can you cut online training costs without settling for a boring, passive, sub-par online course?

1. Reevaluate your LMS options

The best way to ensure your desired level of engagement is to instill it yourself. By investing in an open-source LMS instead of buying prepacked online training materials, you can save thousands of dollars.

There are caveats, though. Prepackaged software is ready-to-use, while open source has to be built from scratch. Plus, you need skilled programmers to work with it, and it takes a lot of time.

Review how much money you want to save and explore hidden costs. Will you need to outsource your open-source optimization to customize it for your brand? Or will you have to hire full-time techies to manage your ‘free’ LMS? Do these expenses surpass the purchase of online training materials?

To cut online training costs, weigh your options carefully. You might also consider a SaaS LMS that allows you to pay-as-you-go instead of shelling out sizable up-front costs.

2. Use existing online training resources

Look around you and work with what you have. This may feel like settling, but it can sometimes be more fruitful than buying the software.

For example, after new hires are onboarded and are accustomed to your organization, put them to work. They’re still fresh, untainted, and unjaded, so harness that newbie energy. You could have them design an online training course to onboard the next set of new hires. The information is still at their fingertips, and they add a ‘neophyte perspective’.

Or, you could go to a particular department and ask them to design a ‘for dummies’ course. It could train their colleagues on relevant interdepartmental interaction, leaving out the fluff. As a ‘department outsider’ you can’t match their insight, and they’ll parse it better for novices. Not to mention that you cut online training costs.

3. Curate public tools

Massive amounts of data are uploaded to the internet every day. There are how-to videos, wiki tutorials, and billions of blog posts on every single topic. Some of this information is incredibly specific, and a lot of it is free. Set some time aside to see what’s available and whether the content creators are okay with redistribution.

Where copyright allows, you can download the online training content and put it together to develop your own online training course. Ideally, this should be for training purposes within your organization. But you don’t want to collect other people’s free online training materials and re-sell them. It’s unethical, rude, and you could get sued. You might even create an online training resource library to address your employees’ JIT training needs.

4. Apply targeted recycling

You may not recognize it, but your organization produces online training material every day. Think of the promotional pack you send to partners and prospects. Or the press releases you send to the media. Or the talks and speeches your boss makes at industry events. Or those reports you keep writing. Even your annual report can be an online training resource.

Once a week, scour your departments for documents that can be converted into online training media. Either as is, or with slight tweaking. That memo from HR could be the basis of a compliance online training course. The irate ‘Move your car!’ yelled via the office intercom? That can be crafted into a guide on office parking policies. Using some of these is a sure way to cut online training costs.

5. Host more live get-togethers

A videoconferencing tool unlocks a world of online training opportunities. Especially when you’re trying to cut online training costs without sacrificing the engagement factor. Host live weekly events that focus on a specific training topic instead of creating an online training course from scratch. You can record the event and upload it to the platform for future reference.

Of course, not all subject matter is conducive to this medium. For example, regulatory compliance courses usually require more structure. Live events also offer employees the chance to provide feedback and actively engage with their peers and managers, aka hosts.

6. Launch a social media support network

Start up a social media support group where employees can share online training resources and insights to improve their comprehension. If they’re confused about a topic after finishing the online training course, they can simply sign in and ask a question. Their better-informed peers are able to help them along using their skills and expertise. As a result, employees get more benefit from the experience and you get to stretch your online training budget. Thus, you get to cut online training costs, thanks to the fact that you’ve just launched a self-running support system and reduced seat time.


Online training doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. In an ideal world, your simulations would involve expansive virtual worlds. But you can teach just as much using a text-based branching scenario.

To cut online training costs, work with what you have. Enroll non-techie employees to produce online training content that’s relevant to their department. Trawl the net for free online resources like how-to videos or infographics. Curate them into an online training course that fits your needs, being sure their copyright terms allow it. Finally, gather and repurpose past presentation decks. A ‘meet and greet’ deck for a pitch can be a helpful online training tool for brand vision or product knowledge.

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