HR budget planning is a tricky business. At the start of the year, you do your best to map out your big ticket items, anticipate where you’ll need the most resources, and decide where you want to spend money.
But as they say, the only constant in this world is change. Even when you use all of the HR budgeting best practices in your toolkit, unexpected expenses will still pop up. Maybe you realize in the middle of the year that you need new technology to help you boost employee engagement. Or you’re on an unexpected hiring spree and you need a higher recruitment budget.
No matter the reason, there will come a time when you might need to ask your executive team for more moola — after they’ve already approved your human resources budget for the year. Here are a few tips to prepare for the conversation.
1. Go into the meeting with the right attitude
Remember that no matter what your HR leader or CFO tells you, it’s not personal. They’re paid to be extremely careful with your company’s cash, and you’ve both agreed on a certain budget number already. Keep in mind that you might not get what you’re asking for. So don’t walk into your meeting primed for a fight; expect and invite an open conversation.
2. Be selective and prepared
Budgeting requires strategic planning. You can’t spend your company’s money like a kid in a candy store—and asking for money on a whim won’t get you anywhere. Before you ask for more money, put together a list of needs, why you need them, and how you’ll accomplish your team’s existing goals by adding more budget.
3. Look for discounts
If you’re looking into a program or software that you might not need until later in the year, factor the latest possible purchase date into the price you share. (The vendor in question should be able to run the math for you.) You get what you want, your CFO spends less money. Everybody’s happy.
4. Share data and feedback
Create reports that show, specifically, how this extra expenditure will save your HR team time and money. Make a plan for how you’ll measure its success. Ask everyone who would benefit from this new purchase to give their reasons (and numbers, if possible!) to support your argument.
5. Avoid compromising at first
After you make your pitch, your CFO’s first response will likely be: “Cool. So what can we cut in order to get you this new resource?”
Be firm about the fact that you’re asking for additional budget, not instead-of budget. Make sure you can clearly explain why this is so important, and how it will boost your existing HR investments.
6. Compromise…if you must
If you’re told there’s absolutely no more budget available, there’s no shame in having a backup plan. But before you agree to cut anything, review your numbers one final time to make sure the compromise is truly feasible.
Your budgeting strategy will inevitably change throughout the year. So make sure you’re prepared to shift if necessary, and get your HR department the resources it needs to be successful.