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HR Budget Planning: Key Components to Consider for Next Year

From payroll to benefits to recruitment, human resources is an important function that keeps a business running. And like any other business function, the management and implementation of these HR responsibilities all incur costs that you’ll need to factor into your budget as you plan for the new year.

Whether you’re basing your budget on last year’s expenditures or planning every budget item from scratch, it’s important to review your different HR needs, so you don’t come up short in the places where you need extra funds. The better you can understand these HR costs, the better you can plan what the next year will look like for your company. Done well, an HR budget will help to prevent over-hiring and understaffing and ensure you have the resources to keep your team engaged on the job. Here are some key HR components that you should consider when planning a yearly budget.

Image of money set aside for HR budgeting items for next year.


There is one big question when it comes to employee recruitment: How many people do you expect to add next year? The answer to that question will dictate how much you’ll need to put into recruitment efforts for your business.

Employee recruitment can be expensive. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) writes that companies spend an average of $4,129 per hire in recruitment costs. These costs include attempts to find candidates and actions to help qualify those targeted recruits, such as:

  • Advertising
  • Travel and events (e.g., College job fairs)
  • Drug testing
  • Background checks
  • Agency fees
  • Relocation

Not to mention, you’ll have to account for the time it takes to screen and interview candidates, which could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months. Every hour spent during the hiring process is an hour taken away from other essential business tasks. 

Whether you’re looking to expand your staff or work in a high turnover industry, you should create a budget for your planned recruiting efforts. If you’ve been keeping track of how much you’ve spent on recruiting in past years, extrapolate that number based on how many candidates you want to hire in the coming year so that you don’t come up short when you need to fill an important position.

Training and Development

Once you hire new employees, you’ll need to train them. Not only can training better prepare your new employees for their positions, “95 percent of hiring managers considered employee training as a key retention tool,” according to a study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Of course, training and development costs money. According to the Association for Talent Development, the average cost of training is $1,888 per employee for businesses with fewer than 500 workers. These costs can include:

  • Internal training programs
  • Event registration fees
  • Travel expenses
  • Educational materials
  • Consulting fees

Employee Wages and Salaries

Payroll is one of the biggest items that you’ll have in your HR budget. The Houston Chronicle estimates that the average business spends somewhere between 15 to 30 percent of its gross revenue on payroll, although companies in the service industry may be closer to the 50 percent range. Regardless of your industry, make sure to take employee salaries into account, plus any estimated costs for any new employees you expect to add on in the coming year.

While salaries are a huge part of your compensation budget, there are other considerations as well, such as payroll management costs, potential overtime hours, and any incentive programs. This also includes any raises, whether you give employees raises that coincide with performance evaluations or annual cost of living raises to account for inflation.

Employee Benefits

In addition to employee pay, there’s also a wide variety of benefits, such as health insurance, 401(k) contributions, and any other ancillary benefits, that you may offer as part of your overall employee compensation package. These costs will require a portion of your HR budget, too. 

If you offer health insurance, as many small businesses do, it will likely take up a sizable portion of that budget. According to SHRM, the “average cost of providing healthcare makes up 7.6 percent of a company’s annual operating budget.” As an employer, you can control some of these costs by electing how much of the health insurance premium you’ll contribute and how much will be your employees’ responsibility. As you go through the budgeting process, you’ll want to account for any possible increases for next year’s health insurance premium, as well as review your contribution strategy. Keep in mind, these healthcare costs don’t necessarily include other insurance benefits you may offer, such as dental, vision, and life insurance. 

Additionally, if you contribute to your employees’ 401(k) retirement plans, you’ll need to factor these amounts in to your budget as well. Fortunately, this should be an easy line item to budget for next year. Since it’s a fixed percentage, you can estimate that all employees will receive a specific amount.

Employee and Labor Relations

While compensation, benefits, and training can go a long way toward improving employee morale, there are some other measures you can take to reward workers. These include:

  • Service awards
  • Recognition efforts
  • Performance and attendance incentives
  • Company events
  • Employee birthday perks and gifts

These items may not make up a massive part of your budget compared to other key HR needs, but they can be important additions to your company culture. Also, you never want to find out that you have to cancel those service awards because you forgot to plan ahead for them in past budgeting meetings. 

On the flip side, you may also want to consider setting aside a small portion of the budget in case you face any labor relations issues. Budgeting for outplacement or legal fees can help your business prepare in case you have any unexpected issues in the upcoming year. 

Health, Safety, and Security

HR budgeting also gives you a chance to invest in the well-being of your employees by making your work environment a safer, healthier place. By putting aside some of the budget for certain programs or initiatives, your business can reap the rewards of focusing on health, safety, and security.

In terms of workplace safety, GMS’ own Jeff Costin notes that workplace safety programs can increase workplace productivity, improve retention rates, and reduce costs affiliated with injuries at work. Budgeting for safety training programs, new safety manuals, regular inspections, and other strategies can help you manage workers’ compensation claims costs and make your workplace safer in the coming year.

Budgeting for health-related programs can also be a worthwhile expense to plan for the next year, as 75 percent of all healthcare costs are attributed to preventable conditions. A workplace wellness program can help your employees develop a healthier lifestyle through a variety of initiatives, such as:

  • Smoking cessation programs
  • The addition of a fitness facility or space
  • Health screenings
  • Lunch and learn events

An HR Budgeting Partner

Once you have your HR budget in place, you’ll need to have the support to move forward with all your plans and manage your HR administration needs. A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) like Group Management Services (GMS) can help businesses manage these HR functions, including payroll and benefits administration

If you have any questions about how to get the most out of your HR budget or are worried about any compliance concerns associated with managing HR, contact GMS today to talk with one of our experts about how we can help your business prepare for the future.

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