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168: How to Secure Budget for Employee Development with Aoife O'Brien
11th August 2023 • Happier At Work® • Aoife O'Brien
00:00:00 00:11:52

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Are you struggling to secure budget for essential workplace initiatives like development programs, employee training and employee resources groups (ERGs)? In this solo episode of the Happier at Work Podcast, Aoife O'Brien, addresses the challenges faced by many professionals in pitching for budget and shares practical steps to overcome them. Starting with a needs analysis and linking it to the organisation's objectives, Aoife emphasises the importance of investing in employee development. She highlights the business impact of unresolved issues like gender inequity, work-life balance, and mental health concerns, urging listeners to consider the return on investment (ROI) to showcase the value of these programs. The episode also explores the significance of trainer expertise and gaining leadership buy-in to ensure successful pitches.

The main points throughout this podcast include:

- Conducting a needs analysis and aligning it with the organisation's objectives.

- Demonstrating the business impact of unresolved workplace issues.

- Calculating the ROI and presenting measurable results for investment.

- Assessing trainer expertise and success stories to ensure effective training.

- Securing leadership buy-in through targeted pitches and anticipating objections.

Do you have any feedback or thoughts on this discussion? If so, please connect with Aoife via the links above and let her know. Aoife would love to hear from you!

Connect with Aoife O'Brien:








Aoife O'Brien [:

Hello, and welcome to this week's solo episode of the Happier At Work podcast, and I'm so thrilled that you decided to tune in today And I'm hoping that today's episode, you will find very practical. The reason being because I get asked about this so much, and I see other people posting on social media, the frustrations and the struggles that they have with trying to get budget to run, whether it's a development program, an investment in internal training, investment in EORGs, things like that. So I thought I would put together a podcast episode all about those types of challenges and how to overcome those or some practical steps that you can take to pitch for budget, essentially. As always, I'd love to know what you thought of today's episode. So do feel free connect with me through the website, And I suppose it's worth reiterating that not all companies invest in employee development But for me, the best companies do invest in employee development. And if you wanna know which ones are not investing, feel free to reach out to me because I know who they are. Increasingly, I'm seeing E orgs, so employee resource groups for anyone who doesn't know being set up, which is brilliant.

Aoife O'Brien [:

It's it's really great to see that, but at same time, I'm also seeing that they're not really getting the investment that they require to really make it a success. So it's kind of almost tokenism So, again, hopefully today's episode will help with that. So whether it is to get investment in a program, an area of development, an EORG. This is what today's episode is all about. So step 1 is looking at the needs analysis. So what is the current state of play in your organization? You can get this information through an engagement survey. You can get feedback from people. You can have a look at retention figures if you have access to that.

Aoife O'Brien [:

So retention figures, reasons for quitting or reasons for leaving from exit interviews, And then how much does it cost when someone leaves the business? Now I've seen stats that range from anywhere between 30% of an individual's salary, their annual salary, and 200% of a person's salary. So say, for example, if someone is earning 50 €1000, that when that person leaves the business, it could cost that business anywhere between 15,000 and a €100,000 in order to replace them. If you think of everything that goes into replacing an employee, There is the time and effort required to actually find that replacement to train them up. There's likely to be a gap in productivity before the new person gets up to speed. There's kind of a I was gonna say breakdown in relation to this, but really what I mean is there's a kind of a disconnect maybe So the previous person had built up really strong relationships, but it's gonna take the new person a little while to build up that same level of relationship as well. That doesn't even bring into consideration the fees from a recruitment agency, for example, as well. Now, once you have this information, you need to link it back to businesses objectives. So what is the organization trying to achieve and where are they maybe falling down when you look at some of the stats that you have gathered.

Aoife O'Brien [:

You can also have a look at things like what has been done before, what worked well, what didn't work so well so that you can build that information into any case that you're making. So number 2 then is looking at the business impact. What is this currently costing the business overall. So there's a few examples, I suppose, that I want to bring to your attention that that I see a lot So struggles that organizations have with gender inequity, so not having enough female leaders at the top, issues with work life balance, mental health issues and stress, which can lead to burnout as well. So there, for me, the most common issue that I'm seeing in organizations at the moment, coming back to the cost then. And I suppose one of the really easy ways to make the connection is understanding the reason why people are leaving. And I know certainly I have left several jobs where I didn't feel like I was getting the development that I wanted in that organization. And, you know, oftentimes throughout exit interviews, the HR will ask, like, what is the reason for leaving? And this is one of the the common reasons that people don't feel like they're being developed.

Aoife O'Brien [:

So if you can isolate those reasons and and put some numbers around that, So if there's x number of people, this is their average salary, then this is how much it's costing the business just from not investing in people development. That's very much looking into the past, but if this doesn't change, what does that mean to the business, and what are the costs ongoing if nothing changes in the business, if they continue not to invest in people or not to give the right level of investment to developing their employees, then what is the cost to the business of that if they're losing people because they don't feel like they're being invested in, or they don't feel like they're valued within the organization? Number 3 then is to look at the ROI, the return on investment. So what kind of return on investment are you expecting to get? can't expect the program to solve all of the problems that you have, but I think if you can make it really clear, a specific outcome that is going to happen as a result of this program that you're running. Now, if we sort of aggregate the information that we had from the previous example and say, Okay. So this number of people are leaving the business overall. This is the average salary that they're costing. So let's say ten people left the business. And the average cost for each one of those people who left the organization is 30 k.

Aoife O'Brien [:

That's a cost of 300 k in total. Now, you're not gonna say that you're gonna solve the entire retention issue, and you're not gonna say necessarily every single person who goes through this development program is not going to resign because I think that's a bit unrealistic. But if you could say that you can reduce that number by half so that only five people leave the organization instead of 10, that's a saving of a 150,000. And if the investment in the program is 50,000, then you're making a 100,000 return on that. So using really solid examples like that, I think, is really important. And again, relating it back specifically to the organization, to real people, to real stories. Another important factor within the return on investment is having quick wins to build momentum for whatever investment you're making. So a few examples of that might be getting feedback from some initial training that happens.

Aoife O'Brien [:

So what is the the feedback about the the training you could have some training around communication, for example, to reduce errors or to reduce miscommunication within the business. you could have some training around work life balance and how to manage your boundaries better so fewer people are getting stressed out and burning out. And fostures better relationships at work and reduces absences at work as well. So the really important thing have measurable results, and again, to link those measurable results back to the business objectives. When it comes to looking at the ROI as well, it's really important to ask for a specific amount. So not just we want to invest in a leadership development program. It's doing the research, finding out how much you're gonna need, and therefore, calculating based on the cost of the program, what the return on investment is going to be. Being really specific about this amount is really important rather than kind of vaguely we want to invest in this program.

Aoife O'Brien [:

Number 4 then is to look at the expertise of the consultant or the trainer. So do they have trained the trainer training, for example. That's a mouthful, isn't it? what is their educational background? So do they have a degree or a master's Do they have any additional postgraduate training? What is their background? Are they from that same industry? What are their testimonials? How many do they have? What are they like? And do they have success stories that they can share either from or the o other organizations or from within your own organization as well. So what are those success stories that again you can use in your pitch to to paint a picture of what it's really going to be like to work with this person? Now, the final thing I'm going to leave you with today is talking about leadership buy in. So being really specific with the senior stakeholders within the business, asking for very specific things from them as well. So again, the specificity here is really important. and think about how you can make it easy for people to say yes. You can do some digging around.

Aoife O'Brien [:

You can ask what their kind of core objectives or their key pain points are and use those to address. You can try and get leadership buy in on an individual basis with people before going into a group meeting, for example, so that you know you have some sort of consensus before you deliver a pitch to a group of people that you've already had the conversation. You've anticipated what the object and what the objections might be and you know vaguely that you have a a level of buy in already. A final final thought for me then is something that occurred to me as I was recording this episode today, and that is that sometimes people don't realize that they can ask for money. So you might be feeling in a situation that you're a bit frustrated and you're not getting the investment that you need, but have you tried actually asking for that or putting a case together to show This is the opportunity, this is the investment, and this is the return that we will get on that investment that we make in our people So something worth thinking about as well. So not just staying stuck in a situation, but rather thinking about how can I approach this how can I use the information that I have and make a case for myself or for other people to get this investment that we need? That's it for today's episode. I'd love to know what you thought of it. And do feel free to reach out to me if you do need any support in terms of getting getting your pitches or or understanding a bit more about how to use the data to make a case for yourself and getting that over the line.