Even though it may feel too early to start worrying about your recruiting budget for next year, trust us—it’s never too early. And later, when deadlines are looming and you have even more pressure to get it done, you’ll be so thankful you put in the time now to make the process more effective and less stressful.
Take the time to look back.
Much of your budgeting will be about bottom-line costs: How much did you pay in bonuses? How much did you spend last year on recruiting? What was your average cost-to-hire? All those metrics (and so many others) come into play, but as you’re starting the budgeting process, it’s time to take a more qualitative look at your year. What worked? What didn’t? Which areas are likely to grow, and which ones aren’t worth investing as many of your precious resources?
Taking a serious, evaluative approach to what happened last year means you won’t just be rubber-stamping last year’s numbers. It’s a chance to figure out what’s working and where you have the opportunity to improve the efficiency of your resources.
It’s important to be honest here, and to evaluate things that didn’t work as well as things that did. It’s not about painting a rosy picture—it’s about allocating resources realistically to set you up for next year.
Set specific hiring goals.
Some of the recruiting and hiring you’ll be doing next year will be unquantifiable—you don’t have a crystal ball to see who’s going to quit next June. What you can do, however, during this budget planning season, is use the data you have to be more predictive. AI platforms can help you identify skills gaps or personnel gaps in your current organization. AI can also take reams of complex data about your workforce and predict who might be about to retire, leave, or otherwise move. What is your plan to address these gaps? Having those numbers in mind will make your budget planning more efficient.
Think about the growth opportunities for employees.
Your employees are your organization’s best resource, and the best way to keep your best talent is to offer professional development opportunities. Management training programs, promotions and internal moves, outside courses or trainings—think about the employees who are ready to level up in the next year. Reviews and conversations with department heads can help shore up your planning here, identifying specific people who might be ready to move up and giving you a headcount you can work with for allocating next year’s professional development resources.
Create a detailed, specific budget.
Budgets typically fall into two buckets: incremental (basically, last year’s budget with small increases) or zero-based (an itemized budget with everything spelled out and each item justified). The first step is deciding which type of budget is the best fit for your organization. At that point, you can start adding the specifics.
Even in the planning and building stages, it’s crucial to get stakeholders on board with your budget. If there are surprises to any key stakeholders later, it could be that much harder to get the resources you’re aiming for or to get final sign-off on your budget. Make sure that all stakeholders are comfortable with the type of budget you’re using (incremental or zero-based), and keep them in the loop as much as you can.
Embrace tech to get your budget done.
Few HR functions are as ready and primed for data crunching as budgeting. Salaries, benefits, costs, etc., are all easily mined and tracked data points, particularly if you’re using a full-service platform that can not only aggregate the data, but report it in meaningful ways that can help you see and shape your resources for next year.
The planning and thoughtful consideration you give to your budget now will make for a more productive process—and a more efficient budget at crunch time.