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How to Create an HR Department Budget

Sharlyn Lauby

We're approaching that time of year. Yep, budget time.

Being able to build a department budget is a valuable skill. It shows the organization that you are able to be a true business partner. And you will learn a lot about the company by participating in the budgeting process.

Here are the eight steps to use when creating your next HR department budget.

1. Know the Budget Calendar

Every organization I've worked for had a budget calendar. It outlined when budgets were due, when budget reviews took place, and when department managers would know when their budget was approved.

Having a clear understanding of the process is important. If your organization doesn't have a formal budget calendar, find time to talk with your chief finance officer. Ask them to share with you the specifics of how the process works.

2. Review Prior Budgets

Before starting a new budget, take a moment to review what happened in the past. Get an understanding of what was budgeted for in prior years and how accurate those budget amounts were.

Did you budget a lot of funds for something that wasn't spent? Why wasn't the money used?

Did you not budget enough funds for something? Why did you exceed budget?

This might prompt the need for some extra research, but it's totally worth it. If you have to justify your budget numbers, then you will want to know this information. Trust me.

3. Establish Goals

With previous years in mind, now it's time to establish our goals. We want to make sure that we get the financial resources to accomplish our goals and objectives. We also need to understand what other departments expect of human resources. It's important to meet with finance, marketing, operations, etc. to find out what goals they have that might impact human resources. And don't forget to meet with the HR team about their individual goals that will impact the department budget.

4. Identify Capital Expenditures

Most of the time, as a human resources pro, I had few capital expenditures. But it's possible that you might. Capital expenditures are incurred when the business spends money on fixed assets. An example would be property, plant or equipment. If you have a question about whether a budget request is a capital expenditure, ask your accounting department. They will be happy to tell you.

The capital budget is like a budget within a budget process. The capital budget is separate from the operating budget but goes through the same reviews and approvals as the operational budget.

5. Create the Department Budget

Now that we're ready to start actually putting numbers into the department budget, it's time to understand how your organization creates budgets. There are two types of budget strategies:

Incremental budgets are based upon adjusting the current budget. For example, "We spent XX dollars on office supplies last year. So, budget that we will spend 5% more this year."

Zero-based budgeting means that every item on the budget must be justified. Past budgets are not considered in the process.

As you think about your budget line items, remember a few key areas:

Revenue: An increasing number of human resources departments are generating revenue. They sell training programs to third-parties or allow tours of their organization (for a nominal fee). HR isn't always an "expense only" department anymore.

Expenses: Unlike some departments, HR has two types of expenses: 1) costs that only impact the human resources department and 2) costs that impact the entire organization. You'll want to consider each carefully and work with finance to make sure your budget submission reflects both.

Staffing analysis: I've worked for a couple of companies that charged back recruiting expenses to each individual department, but for the most part, recruiting is an HR expense. Having a current staffing analysis will help develop and justify your recruiting budget.

Employee compensation: For this area, I'm calling compensation the total package: wages, bonuses, benefits, perks, etc. HR might want to consider having current benchmarking data to establish and justify their budget numbers.

6. Know Where You Have Flexibility

Some people will call this step "sandbagging". It's when you add money to your budget knowing it will be cut in the review process - so you end up where you wanted to be all along. While I cannot officially condone sandbagging, I can unofficially tell you the process exists.

I'm not bringing this up to encourage manipulating the budget. I am mentioning it because, at some point, you will be asked to tweak your budget numbers. Be prepared and know where you can make adjustments without sacrificing quality.

7. Look for Budget Support

Once your budget is finalized, you will want to have supporters. Especially in the senior management team that reviews and ultimately approves the budget. They might not be able to give HR everything they want, but make sure your supporters know what the top 1-2 goals for the department are so those funds don't get cut.

8. Monitor Your Budget Regularly

After the budget is approved, create a process for reviewing expenses to ensure you stay on track. If your organization has a regular P&L review meeting, get yourself invited to it. You will learn a lot about financials and the company. And, don't be surprised if, at some point, you're asked to reforecast your budget. That's taking this process and rebudgeting (only in a much smaller timeframe.)

The art of creating a budget is essential to human resources management. We're the experts on HR, so we should be responsible and accountable for how much it costs. Budgeting isn't always the most fun activity, but it's one where you will learn a lot about the organization and build valuable relationships with the rest of the business.

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Taking A Company-Wide Approach to Learning & Development

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Taking A Company-Wide Approach to Learning & Development

There’s a lot of coordination that goes into a company’s learning and development programming, from identifying skills gaps and creating engaging content to scaling initiatives company-wide. And because there’s so much complex planning involved, organizations can sometimes get caught up in the details, and overlook how L&D fits into broader organizational goals. A recent survey—titled "The Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change"—from Cornerstone People Research Lab (CPRL) and the Human Capital Institute (HCI) found that only 55% of organizations believe their L&D programs are well-aligned with their company’s overarching strategy. But CPRL and HCI’s survey reveals two logical ways to overcome this challenge. First, there’s a need for L&D executives to participate in strategic conversations around organizational goals to ensure that L&D planning aligns with broader business plans. And second, it’s important to share responsibility for learning effectiveness. If facilitating continuous learning is a part of everyone’s role, it becomes easier to integrate it organization-wide. Promote Cross-Departmental Collaboration and Responsibility To better align L&D efforts with overarching business goals, learning executives have to participate in strategic conversations about organizational direction. For instance, when business leaders gather to discuss goals and KPIs for the coming year or quarter, HR and L&D leaders should be involved in those conversations. And the opposite is also true: Business leaders need to help direct the learning outcomes framed against those goals. According to the "Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change" survey from CPRL and HCI, only about half (51%) of learning leaders report being involved in these discussions. During these business planning discussions, it’s important to establish accountability, especially among people managers. CPRL and HCI found 67% of people managers report being involved in the creation of content, but only 47% are involved in the accountability for the results. By holding more people accountable to the success of L&D programs, it can be easier for a company to spot pitfalls or opportunities for improvement. It creates shared goals for measuring effectiveness, and establishes a process for making changes. For example, by getting people managers involved in L&D initiatives, L&D leaders can work with them to get a better understanding of a specific team’s skill gaps or what reskilling or new skilling solutions will work best for them. All leaders in an organization, in fact, should be eager to participate and own their team’s newskilling, reskilling or upskilling efforts. Ask a people manager in the IT department to reiterate the importance of learning to their team, and track the amount of time their employees spend on learning content. This approach will not only create a shared commitment to continuous learning, but can also help leaders outside of L&D and HR get a better idea of what content or formats work best for their teams and recommend adjustments accordingly. Continuous Learning Is Everyone’s Responsibility Aligning overarching business plans and strategy with learning and development efforts can improve each’s efficacy. The more cross-departmental collaboration that exists, the more information that HR and L&D leaders have about their workforce and its needs, strengths and weaknesses. And with more accountability, all stakeholders in an organization can become more involved in ensuring the successful partnership between L&D and a company’s overall strategy. To learn more about the findings from Cornerstone’s "The Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change" survey and its recommendations for using cross-departmental collaboration and accountability to help with L&D efforts, click here to download and read the full report.

Why supporting neurodiversity is essential for any successful workforce today

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Why supporting neurodiversity is essential for any successful workforce today

When we think of diversity in the workforce, we typically think of it along the lines of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. But focusing only on those four is its own sort of constraint. To truly create a successful and diverse workplace, you need to ensure you're also embracing neurodiversity too. Understanding neurodiversity In the late 1990s, a single mother in Australia named Judy Singer began studying Disability Studies at University of Technology Sydney. Her daughter had recently been diagnosed with what was then known as “Asperger’s Syndrome,” a form of autism spectrum disorder. As she read more and more about autism as part of her studies, Singer also suspected that her mother, and she herself, may have had some form of autism spectrum disorder. Singer describes crying as she realized that her mother, with whom she'd had a tumultuous relationship throughout her childhood, wasn’t purposefully cold or neurotic as she had thought. She just had a different kind of mind. In her honors thesis, Singer coined the term “neurodiversity.” For Singer, people with neurological differences like autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or dyslexia were a social class of their own and should be treated as such. If we are going to embrace diversity of race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc., then we must embrace a diversity of the mind. The following video is an excerpt from the "Neurodiversity" Grovo program, which is available in the Cornerstone Content Anytime Professional Skills subscription. Neurodiversity in today's workplace Recently, neurodiversity has become a trendy term in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging spaces. And many organizations are working to hire more neurodivergent people, as well as give them opportunities to thrive at work. That’s why, at Cornerstone, we recently produced a series of lessons on neurodiversity. If your organization hasn’t prioritized neurodiverse inclusion yet, here are some reasons why it both supports your people and organization. 1) Neurodivergent people are underemployed Neurodivergent people, especially people with autism, are widely under-employed, regardless of their competence. In the United States, 85% of college graduates with autism are unemployed. According to a 2006 study, individuals with ADHD have higher rates of unemployment than individuals without. However, there is no evidence that neurodivergent people are less competent or less intelligent than neurotypical people. Organizations are missing out on talented people. 2) Neurodivergent people are more common than you may think Neurodiversity manifests in many different ways. It can encompass autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, Tourette syndrome, and many other conditions. And as scientists have learned more about what makes someone neurodivergent, they're identifying more and more people. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 160 children have some form of autism spectrum disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in every 162 children have Tourette Syndrome, and roughly 8 percent of children under 18 have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. And that's just children. How many adults, like Judy Singer's mother, have struggled their whole lives without a diagnosis? People who are neurodivergent are everywhere. Diverse organizations are stronger Diverse organizations and teams not only have better financial returns than less-diverse ones, but they also perform better. Having the different perspectives presented by people who are neurodivergent can help your team solve more difficult problems. Different perspectives and different ways of thinking lead to creativity and innovation.

Why Selecting a Leadership Development Program Is Way Too Complicated

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Why Selecting a Leadership Development Program Is Way Too Complicated

Many organizations face a leadership gap and cannot find the talent needed to grow. We could blame the retiring baby boomer phenomenon, the free agent nation, or the lack of investment made in developing leaders. But since blame is a lazy man’s wage, I will not entertain that debate because there are too many options out there for developing leaders. There are many leadership development programs in the market. In minutes, with a simple Internet search or over coffee with your head of human resources, you can discover myriad high-quality leadership development programs that you could use in your organization to develop leaders. The problem is not finding a good program, but in choosing one. Answer the Right Questions So how does one choose? The problem we face in evaluating leadership development programs is that we get caught up in evaluating the content rather than asking a simple question, "What do we want our leaders to be able to do?" Each organization is unique in how it answers this question. And that is where the secret lies. If an organization can select a program that matches the answer to the question above, the selected program will likely be the right one. After all, each leadership development program is very good in some way. It is not so important which one you select. It is important that you use the one you select. In other words, the key is to not let it become another un-opened binder on the bookshelves of your management team. Be An Effective Leader Let me give you an example: If an organization’s answer to the question above is, "We want our leaders to be proactive and focused on the things that drive results," your choices are narrowed down to only a few programs that would deliver on that answer. And if I had to pick one program that would deliver on that answer, without hesitation, I would choose, "The Effective Executive" by Peter F. Drucker. It is a classic, and all five of the behaviors of effective executives taught in the book remain vital skills that any leader should practice if he or she wants to be effective in his or her organization. In the book, Drucker teaches that effective executives: Know where their time goes Focus on contribution and results Build on strengths Concentrate on first things first Make effective decisions This is not a book review or a plug for "The Effective Executive," though I do believe if you had to choose one set of skills to teach your leadership, it would be the five from Drucker’s book. This is a challenge for every organization to simplify the selection of leadership development programs, and ask, "What do we want our leaders to be able to do?" Answering this question clearly will help you choose the right program. After all, many programs are excellent. The secret to success is not in which program you choose, but that you get people to apply the program you choose. Photo: Can Stock

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