Free and Low Cost Professional Development Benefits to Offer Employees

Every Workplace can Provide Learning and Training Benefits on a Budget

Professional Development Benefits
Employee Professional Development. Full rights common use article/Pexels

Looking for ways to improve your organization’s compensation and ability to compete in a tough market? One of the most powerful employee benefits you can offer to your workforce is that of learning and professional development. Nearly every employee is looking for ways to boost his or her marketable skills, so professional development is viewed as a major perk. Start creating professional development plans for your employees and get started on building a stronger workforce.

Investing in your workforce learning makes good business sense

Last year, The Association for Talent Development reported that organizations spent around $1,208 per year per employee which amounts to around 37 hours in professional development efforts. Each industry dictates the number of required training needed in order to perform the industry tasks associated with job types. Costs can also vary depending on the type of training, training formats, and if there are any travel requirements.

In any case, professional development is a good investment, because when employees are well-versed in their jobs and have solid training as a foundation, they are better able to perform their jobs. Teams of well-trained employees can have an even bigger impact on the bottom line. Even when employees decide to pursue college programs and advanced industry certificates, being able to invest in them can mean the difference between gaining a highly knowledgeable employee vs. losing a high performer.

This is the only employee benefit that gives back to the organization.

Low cost and free professional development sources

How can your organization offer training and development benefits on a tight budget? Luckily, there are a multitude of free and low-cost professional development opportunities that can be considered.

Here’s a brief list to explore.

Online courses

Thanks to the development of learning technology, there are limitless opportunities to obtain professional development online. Look for free and low-cost courses through top providers such as ALISON, Coursera, edX,, Open2Study, Udemy, and more.

University Open Source

In addition to independent publishers of professional development courses, many more colleges and universities have opened their doors to students to take open source classes. These are generally based on established practices in the workplace, management skills, and other interesting topics. You can find a directory of classes on Open Culture.

Small Business Administration

In every community, there is a Small Business Administration office that is committed to helping support entrepreneurs who are trying to start their own dream business. However, they often have access to speakers who are willing to visit local workplaces to deliver low-cost training sessions on a variety of career and business topics.

Software, Equipment and Service Vendors

When organizations invest in software, equipment, and services – the vendors they work with want companies to be successful. Therefore, many offer on-demand and digital versions of training courses that employees can learn from.

Ask your vendors to conduct annual training sessions on topics like safety, process updates, and more.

Industry Associations

Depending on the industry your company falls into, your employees can be working towards industry knowledge and certifications by being participating members. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management offers ongoing webinars and training sessions for members and certification programs that can help employees stay abreast of changing HR laws.

Business Networks

There are a lot of business networks made up of area professionals who are eager to teach others and network with your company. For example, Toastmasters is an international business building organization that teaches public speaking skills and has chapters in every state. Be creative and reach out to the businesses in your area that may be able to send speakers to conduct free brown bag lunch training sessions, start learning groups on your campus, and more.


iTunes and other podcast and radio shows provide tons of free training sessions on every possible topic. This can be a great way to learn in small snippets using mobile devices, a factor that can increase learning retention in working adults. Look for popular iTunes podcasts like A Dose of Leadership, and What Great Bosses Know.


The world’s largest video social network is filled with professional development opportunities for employees, with topics from A-Z. Short tutorials are great for hands-on and visual learners who can watch videos while they try new skills, learn to use a new software product, troubleshoot or manage a procedure safely.

These are just a handful of ways that your organization can provide professional development learning opportunities for free or low cost to your workforce.