FREE leadership and business management courses you can enrol in today

Earn your next promotion with these 12 online leadership management courses that are free to complete.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Today’s jobs market is perilous for employees. Workers across every industry are looking to future-proof their jobs and upskill themselves in line with the most sought-after talents that recruiters are looking for – and that’s where a management course can help.

Signing up to a management course is a great way to develop soft skills like organisation, empathy, and problem solving; all of which are in high demand from employers.

The UK government is waking up to the problem. In April, it launched its own 100% free management training course for small business leaders.

We’ll explain how to apply to that, and other, free online management courses in the guide below. We’ve sorted each course by how long it takes to complete but all are available to apply to right away, so that even the most time-stretched employees can prepare themselves for a dream job change this year.

3 free management courses you can complete in one day

1. Managing People from The Open University

Best for: basic introduction to management 

The Open University (OU) is the UK’s largest university by population and the only one based entirely online. It offers flexible part-time study to anyone, and boasts hundreds of hours of free online courses relating to management.

We recommend the OU’s Managing People diploma as one of the most comprehensive introductions to managing employees. Over nine lessons (estimated to take around eight hours to complete) students will learn everything from stress management to how to transition into a managerial role.

2. Skills For New Managers from LinkedIn

Best for: new managers

It’s one of the business world’s largest networking resources, so it’s no surprise that LinkedIn also has thousands of online courses from leading industry experts. We’ve picked out this course as ideal for workers thrust into the management spotlight without prior training.

Developed by learning development coach, Chelsea Jay, the programme covers topics such as workplace communication and managing up. Jay says it takes just under six hours to complete – but don’t panic. Users can retain full access to all course materials once the course is downloaded, so you’re able to learn at your own pace.

3. Employee Management for Business Managers from Alison

Best for: managing direct reports

Online learning website, Alison has a huge library of over 1,300 online learning courses. Its Employee Management for Business Managers teaches students to master the ‘human’ aspect of human resource.

Teaching key communication skills, as well as how to plan one-to-one meetings, the course is all about creating a healthy work culture in the team or department you’ll head up. The end result is relatively light touch, and takes between two and three hours to complete. But as a basic introduction to management, it’s a great starting point for wannabe bosses.

4 free management courses you can complete in six weeks

1. Diploma in Supervision from Alison

Best for: dealing with workplace conflict

This course, also from Alison, covers 15 modules in total and takes a much longer 10-15 hours to complete. It tackles the much trickier subject in management of workplace conflict: what it is, how to spot it, and conflict resolution methods.

You’ll also learn about a vital area of coaching: performance management. Find out how to use training, support, time, and resources to help a staff member succeed; as well as what to do if a worker’s performance falls below expectations.

2. Leadership and Management Styles from Human & Emotion

Best for: managing a team of employees

Being a good manager at work often requires strong leadership skills. But every person has a preferred leadership style they want to work to – and that’s where this course from Human & Emotion is so vital.

In a span of two weeks, leaders will be taught about the different leadership methods such as mentor, service, and coaching, to determine which approach works best for them. To get started, users can simply sign up to create a free account on the Alison website.

3. Communication and Interpersonal Skills at Work from FutureLearn

Best for: mastering remote team management 

This course is all about developing effective workplace communication in the post-COVID workplace. With a large chunk of the workforce now based remotely, effective team working has become a big challenge for managers.

Students on the FutureLearn course will cover six different topics over two weeks to explore how to align traditional workplace hurdles (like probation meetings) with new digital technologies such as video conferencing.

4. Principles of Team Leading from Learning Curve Group (LGC)

Best for: guided learning with an expert instructor

LGC is a reputable provider of training and education courses in the UK. It works closely with the government to deliver its courses, so don’t be fooled by the price tag: all UK citizens can apply for this course to be fully-funded as part of the Adult Education Budget.

Course completion time is estimated to take six weeks. You’ll submit all your work at the end of each week to be marked by a course instructor.

There are eight units to work through. These cover the usual suspects (like communication and collaboration) while later modules will explain how to apply those principles to customer service and your own personal development.

5 free management courses you can complete in one year

1. Principles of Team Leading from Free Courses England

Best for: new business owners

Free Courses England is a training provider that works directly with the UK government to help upskill Brits. Its Principles of Team Leading course is of incredible value, spanning 12 weeks of study that’s entirely guided by a personal tutor.

Split into eight “manageable” units, the program is an especially useful option for new business owners or those stepping into a larger team management role.

It covers basics like how to delegate, but also more complex employee legislation like staff health and safety, and how to deal with harassment in the workplace. At the end, you’ll receive an accredited Level 2 qualification (equal to three or four GCSEs).

2. Lean Organisation Management from Free Courses England

Best for: managing in a startup

Lean business models are all about generating the best business outcomes with the fewest possible resources. This lean organisation module for managers focuses on working effectively within a small team, and is a great option for startups with flat hierarchies.

Spanning just three modules, it nonetheless takes around three months to complete, and will go in-depth into workplace organisation methods and team management – two fundamental skills for leaders in fast-scaling organisations.

Another government-funded programme, this program is a Level 2 qualification. All students are allocated an individual tutor to guide them through each module.

3. Project Management from Google

Best for: project managers

If you need to plan any kind of campaign or roadmap in your job, this course from Google is an ideal entry path into the complexities (and rewards) of managing a project.

As part of a six-course series, Google teaches students everything from project planning and ideation, to execution and review. But it’s not all technical – there’s a lot here that’s useful for overseeing team dynamics, including a whole module on stakeholder management.

Working at 10 hours a week, this course will take roughly six months to complete. At the end, you’ll be able to put a Google-accredited stamp on your CV.

4. Crisis Management at Work from the Oxford Home Study Centre (OHSC)

Best for: managing in regulated industries, like healthcare 

As crises like natural disasters, cyberattacks, and data breaches become more frequent, the demand for skilled crisis managers is on the rise. This OSHC course will train learners in how to identify risks and develop effective business continuity plans.

Employees study eight modules in total, and there are no deadlines; you’ll complete all dedicated tasks completely at your own pace. Typically, however, the course will take around 450 hours to complete, which means learners should budget around 12 months before they can get their hands on a CPD Accredited Certificate to pin to their CV.

5. Help to Grow: Management Essentials from the Department of Business and Trade

Best for: new business owners

The UK government launched a free online course “Help to Grow: Management Essentials” for small business leaders. The short course, which can be completed in 12 weeks, provides practical tips on business growth and management through videos and resources. It’s ideal for busy leaders of new or small businesses who want to learn the essentials before enrolling in a longer program.

Included within the course are 12 modules, eight hours of peer group sessions, and ten hours of 1-2-1 mentoring. Excitingly, it doesn’t end there. Once you’ve completed the course, entrepreneurs will automatically join the national Alumni Network, giving them free access to events, webinars, and expert content as they scale their business.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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