Justifying Funds For Training: Survey Numbers May Help

How many times have you heard someone say, “people are our biggest asset”? Maybe you’ve said it yourself. It isn’t news that people play a critical role in getting buildings to perform efficiently. For example, Energy Star numbers have shown for years that older buildings can perform just as well as newer ones, on average; what matters for performance isn’t how new the building systems are, but how well the building is operated. 

When it comes to the facility department, however, a lot of organizations don’t treat staff like a valuable asset, according to a recent Building Operating Management survey: 48 percent of respondents don’t have enough funds to cover education and training needs. And of that group, 57 percent say the lack of education and training is having a significant impact on the facility department. (Click here for the full results of the survey, including dollars and hours budgeted per employee.)

For organizations that prize energy efficiency, sustainability, or just safety, those numbers aren’t good news. But I don’t think tightfisted executives are the only reason so many facility managers don’t have the dollars they need for training. The survey shows that only 17 percent of respondents have put a dollar value on the benefits of training.

An argument can be made that training benefits are hard to quantify. Fair enough, perhaps, when it comes to improved comfort or reduced legal liability. But that rationale falls flat when it comes to energy efficiency. And of those who say training has led to reduced energy costs, only 20 percent report having quantified the benefits of training.

That low number, like a low Energy Star score, is evidence of an opportunity. The first step is to track the results of training, from lower energy costs to fewer accidents. Just gathering the information is likely to spark ideas for improvement. And if a facility manager can show how last year’s training paid off, my bet is that management will be far more disposed to sign off on next year’s training budget.

Using the training survey budget numbers as an industry benchmark may also help convince management that facility training is worth an investment.