Training engages and motivates employees by showing them that their company values them. Accordingly, companies who invest in employees’ education usually have a lower turnover rate. However, when organizations make budget cuts, training is often one of the first areas they target. Here are six tips to help you plan your L&D on a budget.

1. Assessing Needs and Goals

First, look at what you want to accomplish by training your employees. Are there gaps in their knowledge? Look at weak areas and determine what is necessary to bring them up to your company goals. Perhaps they need training on new products or services offered by your company, or maybe they struggle with customer service. Review each employee at least annually to assess gaps. Once you are aware of those gaps, you can explore your training options.

2. Learning Outside the Company

There are many training options to pursue outside the company. For example, industry trade associations often offer free or low-cost training to association members. Other low-cost options include conferences, seminars and meetings, which present opportunities for learning both general and specific topics. Check with other companies in your industry to learn how they train employees and which associations offer the most benefits.

3. Pairing Employees

Developing an in-house, employee-led training program is a low-budget endeavor that reaps large benefits. No need for travel, renting office space or hiring expensive teachers: Just tap into your existing resources. Watch for employees who have unique skills and ask them to lead an educational meeting for other employees. As teams work together, encourage them to transfer knowledge and skills to each other. When leaders and managers attend training programs, ask them to pass on what they learn to their team members. You can also set up training and mentoring programs for existing employees like you do for new hires.

4. Technology-Based Instruction

Take advantage of the information that is available at your employees’ fingertips. The internet abounds in learning opportunities that are effective, inexpensive and convenient. For example, a lot of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are either free, paid or a combination of both. You can customize the experience for your employees by leaving it causal with open enrollment or creating structure by signing them up for applicable lessons. Other advantages include 24/7 availability, flexible timing, the option of different levels of commitment, and the ability to monitor progress and performance.

MOOCs are only one of many available options that include educational websites, e-learning platforms and learning apps that offer affordable online training.

5. Using Gamification

Gamification is a relatively new concept that takes the fun elements of playing games and applies them to a different context—in this case, training. Popular techniques such as leaderboards, badges, avatars, levels, rewards and challenges motivate employees to complete tasks. Gamification can improve employee engagement and retention and provide instant feedback and self-diagnostics.

You don’t need to invest much money to develop stimulating and motivational games, especially if they take place offline. All you need to do is employ your gray cells and get creative, which could also mean getting your employees to participate in developing new concepts.

There are several gamification platforms you can use to create electronic games, and some of them are inexpensive or even free. Platforms such as Badgeville, BigDoor or GetBadges have a wide range of monthly fees, depending on their clients’ needs. Moodle, Zurmo and User Infuser are free open-source gamified learning platforms.

6. Exploring Service Provider Packages

Often, when you purchase products or services, the supplier offers training to help you make the most of them. This technical training could involve training away from the office, online training or webinars. Service provider programs are perfect for teams and may reach across several departments. They also typically train customers at little to no cost to the employer.

The training you offer your employees should help you reach your business goals. By taking advantage of several types of training, you can develop a customized program that is relevant and efficient. Make sure the benefits are consistent and measurable so you can continually evaluate your training plan and strive to be even better.