Why Coming In Under Budget Isn’t Always a Good Thing for HR Pros (An Unconventional Take)

Jellyvision Industry Insights

why-under-budget-not-always-great-copyIf you’re an HR/benefits pro, around this time of year you’ve probably got two things front of mind — your open enrollment (if it hasn’t happened yet)…and where you’re at with your yearly budget.

If you’re tying yourself in knots about how you’re going to come in under budget this year, consider reading this counterintuitive (and super-insightful) article by Tim Sackett on why not spending a little extra for the stuff that could really help you success could come back to bite you.

It’s called “Hey HR Pro: No One Will Remember How Much of the Budget You Saved” and here’s how it begins:

When I first started my career in HR on the corporate side of the fence, I was always very concerned about my budget.

I spent a long time making sure I developed a good budget and I worked even harder to stay on or under budget.

Ultimately, it was the biggest waste of time I ever spent as an HR professional.

What I learned over the years was that budgets are important, but succeeding at your functional area is a lot more important!

No one cared if I came in 7 percent under budget, but I had critical positions open for way too long, and projects were behind or failed as a result. No one cared that I came in under salary budget if our turnover increased. No one cared that I didn’t use all of my HR technology budget if they continued to be frustrated with processes that caused them more work.

A lesson in strategic spending

I didn’t learn this until I spent so much money I thought I was going to be fired, and ended up getting praised instead! I was working on a project to open up 40 pharmacies in a year. That meant we had to find a lot of pharmacists.

For those in that game, you know finding 80 or so pharmacists isn’t something you just go post on CareerBuilder. We had to market. We had to go to a ton of schools. We had to ‘buy’ some folks with sign-on bonuses, relocation bonuses, tuition guarantees. Whatever it took!

I was so far over my budget I took on this thought process: ‘Well, I might as well fill them all; I’ll be fired next year at budget time!

(To read the rest of Tim’s article, click here.)


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