9 Things to Consider When Creating Your Learning and Development Budget

7 Considerations When Developing Your Training BudgetThis blog post was originally published on September 20, 2017 and was updated on December 2, 2020.

Creating a budget for developing your people can be a daunting task for many HR professionals. Throw in a global pandemic and you've got an even more challenging task. While there are many unknowns, it's still critical to plan and be clear about specific learning needs and associated costs.

You can alleviate some of these “pains" by doing your due diligence during the creation of your learning and development budget. Here are nine actions to consider when creating your budget.

1. Benchmark Your Organization

The average direct learning expenditure per employee is $1,299, and the average amount of formal learning hours per employee is 34.0, not including informal learning such as on-the-job learning.[1]

Understanding your industry and how your organization compares to these national figures may give you a baseline for your budget planning. However, every organization is different, and therefore, has differing needs and approaches to staff development.

2. Conduct a Training Needs Assessment

A Training Needs Assessment is one method that can be used to improve the predictability of your professional development for the next year and for years to come. It is best to conduct a Training Needs Assessment annually. A Training Needs Assessment can be conducted in-house or you can bring in an outside consultant to assess the needs of your organization.

An assessment like this can help determine where the opportunities for improvement are in your organization. It can determine if you need to dedicate monies to leadership development, or succession planning if you have an executive or manager that will be transitioning out of the organization. It can also determine if you need to re-train managers on how to conduct performance reviews or at least provide refreshers on a regular basis.

You can determine these things by talking to your people and looking at your people metrics. If your turnover rate is increasing, find out why, then figure out what type of training, either for the managers or the employees, is necessary to improve that metric.

When conducting a Training Needs Assessment, it helps to assess needs categorically (e.g. by location; division/department; position level, manager vs. individual contributor, etc.). When there are large groups who need the same training, it makes it easier to know whether classroom training is the answer, individuals should be sent out, or webinars or e-learning should be used. 

3. Initiate Employee Engagement Surveys

With millions of employees working remotely, employers should consider adding employee engagement surveys to their budgets. An employee engagement survey measures the strength of the employees' emotional connection and commitment to the organization and its goals. Research shows engagement contributes to a number of business outcomes, including increased retention, motivation, and productivity.  

Employee engagement surveys are usually administered online. Standard and pulse versions are typically available. The data can be segmented and analyzed by using demographic categories like location, division/department, and position level.  

4. Review Administrative Costs

The administration costs that you can budget for truly depend on the size of your company. If you are a small organization and the only administrative aspects to training fall on an HR Generalist to coordinate and schedule training for a group of 60 people three times a year, your administrative line may be very minimal.

However, if you are a larger organization that needs to track and evaluate the training of 500+ employees, you may want to invest in an LMS (learning management system) to document, track, and report all of your training programs.

5. Invest in Consultations

Not every workforce “pain” you experience can be fixed by sending a handful of employees to training. Sometimes the pain is actually a strategic misstep that needs to be addressed on a higher level. Sometimes the pain is when only one employee is experiencing issues which may be resolved with one-on-one coaching rather than sending the employee off to training. 

For instance, if you are having trouble with one or two recruiters bringing in talent to your organization, you may be able to alleviate this issue by training those recruiters directly.

However, if your organization is experiencing a high turnover rate and is losing out on high-performing talent during the recruitment process, it may be time to take a look at your overall talent management strategy.

6. Experiment with Train-the-Trainer

Mid-size or large organizations that already have an in-house trainer on staff for onboarding new employees or training on soft skills can actually send their already-salaried trainer to training that teaches them how to train employees on a specific topic.

This is ideal for organizations that already have an instructor on staff and are looking to expand their in-house training capabilities.

7. Support Employees with Coaching and Mentoring

For many avenues of professional development, particularly for employees on leadership tracks, it’s important to support those employees by helping them achieve their objectives and goals. Coaching is typically focused on ensuring that key employees such as senior leaders and executives are continuing to develop effective workplace behaviors. Coaching can be paired with assessments that help identify leadership and interpersonal styles and areas of improvement.

Mentoring programs can also be developed for employees who may not be (or desire to be) on leadership tracks but are still looking to grow as a professional. Mentoring programs can either be set-up in-house in which more senior employees are mentoring entry-level or associate employees, or they can be set-up to involve outside professional networks. In either case, training for both the mentors and for those being mentored is necessary to ensure the mentees get the direction and development they need.

8. Factor in Direct Costs (The Basics)

Whether you are using an outside firm or an in-house instructor, there are a laundry list of questions you must ask and things you must account for, direct-cost-related, when developing your learning and development budget. Also, depending on your organization's comfort level with the risks associated with the global pandemic, you may want to factor in (or out) instructor travel, facility rentals, and any costs associated with in-person training. Here’s a list of a few direct-costs to consider, if applicable:

  • Trainee travel, lodging, meals, etc.
  • Instructor travel, lodging, meals, etc.
  • Instructor fees
  • Facility rental
  • Technology costs
  • Materials (workbooks, videos, etc.)
  • Evaluations

9. Don't Forget Indirect Costs

There are a number of indirect costs you also have to account for when developing your budget. These indirect costs include things such as employee absence and impact on the organization. In fact, if organizations are averaging 34.0 hours of formal learning per employee per year, accounting for employee absences adds up quickly.

This also affects any position that may need a replacement to fill-in during their time in training and that cost should be accounted for in your budget. 

[1]The Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) 2019 State of the Industry report

ERC provides customized training for organizations across the nation.

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Megan Mayhugh Joins ERC as Chief Growth Officer

MeganM 320 x 320 (1)Highland Heights, Ohio – ERC, the 100-year-old organization that provides people data and HR services to help leaders make better decisions, is pleased to announce that Megan Mayhugh recently joined the company as Chief Growth Officer.

Megan brings over 25 years of experience in strategy, finance, human resources, and operations to ERC. Throughout her career, she has helped companies adapt to enterprise-wide change and improve their bottom lines, while never losing sight of the people that drive business results. 

In her role as ERC’s Chief Growth Officer, Megan oversees overall revenue growth and sales strategies for ERC Services, including ERC Membership, Professional Development, and ERChealth

“We’re thrilled to welcome Meg to our team as she has a proven track record for driving strategic growth at companies of various industries and sizes,” said Senior Vice President Carrie Morse.

Megan has held executive-level and leadership roles at leading organizations, which include McKinsey & Company, National City Bank, PNC Bank, Bridgewater Associates, Talent Launch, and Dealer Tire of Cleveland. Most recently, she served as Chief of Staff at INSIGHT2PROFIT, a consulting company focused on helping firms increase their profitability through pricing strategies. 

“Meg’s subject matter-expertise, skills, and experience align perfectly with our organization,” said President Kelly Keefe. “Meg is already making valuable contributions that will move the needle for our business lines and the clients we serve.”

“It’s wonderful to be a part of the ERC team at a pivotal point in the company’s 100-year history,” said Meg. “I’m excited to serve in this leadership capacity and contribute to the organization’s ongoing growth.”

Megan graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College with a degree in psychology. She also has an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College, where she was the recipient of the Julia Stell Award for outstanding school contributions. 

About ERC
Since 1920, ERC has provided people data and HR services to help leaders make better decisions. Through our certified HR advisors, we offer consultative services, compensation benchmarking and data, workplace polls and surveys, networking, and cost savings opportunities. We also offer virtual and classroom instructor-led training, on-demand learning, individual and team assessments, one-on-one coaching, and employee engagement services. In addition, ERC is the founder of NorthCoast 99, and sponsors the ERChealth insurance program for Ohio employers. ERChealth is an affordable, quality health insurance program for mid-market organizations that delivers uncommonly low rates, and comprehensive coverage and plan options.

6 Ways to Help Employees Get Along

6 Ways to Help Employees Get Along

This blog post was originally published on April 4, 2012 and was updated on November 5, 2020.

Sometimes employees don't get along and these conflicts and office disagreements can dampen productivity, waste time, reduce a team's performance, make the work environment tense and uncomfortable, and increase stress in work groups - none of which are beneficial to your business. Here are a few ways managers can help reduce conflict on their teams.

1. Set the tone

Managers and leaders set the tone for team interactions by what they say or do when conflict or problems emerge between their employees, how they manage conflict with their own peers, and what behavior they tolerate. If managers act passive-aggressive, disrespect fellow employees, or do not directly deal with conflict, employees will follow their lead.

2. Hire team-players

Hiring employees who have strong interpersonal, team-building, and internal customer service skills can decrease the likelihood of conflicts. While it's tough to predict how well a candidate will interact with your team, a solid personality or style assessment and behavioral interview as well as asking for references can help.  

3. Don't ignore conflicts

Managers have a tendency to ignore problems with poor team players or team conflicts until they escalate. Instead they should encourage employees to collaborate on a solution and seek coaching and/or training for current employees who argue with coworkers, don't provide good internal service, or are overly critical or judgmental of others. It's critical to not let conflict spiral out of control.

4. Educate on styles and generational differences

Great teams are melting pots of different generations and backgrounds. Each employee brings a different personality and style to the table. Most conflict stems from not fully appreciating who another person is, their background, and the strengths of their individual style. Spend time educating your team on style and generational differences.

5. Spend time interacting

Developing common ground is one of the most important ways to fend off conflict in the workplace, and it's achieved in the simplest of ways: spending more time with one another. Informally interacting and talking is one of the best ways to get employees familiar with one another. When they eventually find common ground, magic happens.

6. Reward teamwork

Most managers want teamwork, but reward individual achievement. Recognizing and rewarding teamwork, collaboration, and supportive interactions and promoting or giving choice assignments to employees who act like team players helps promote and encourage a supportive work environment.

When conflict strikes in the workplace, your managers are the best people to nip it in the bud, deal with it, and prevent it.

Conflict Resolution & Mediation Training

Conflict Resolution & Mediation Training

The course demonstrates how constructive conflict resolution techniques can be useful.

Train Your Employees

Talking Politics in the Workplace: Addressing the Elephant (or Donkey) in the Room

Talking Politics in the Workplace: Addressing the Elephant (or Donkey) in the Room

This blog post was originally published on Oct. 29, 2018, and it was updated on Oct. 7, 2020.

With the upcoming 2020 Election Day on November 3, to say that this year has been more politically charged than most is an understatement at best. So what happens when political discussions begin to (or maybe they already have) sneak into the workplace? Hopefully, nothing. Ideally the discussions remain just that—a civil discourse between employees, perhaps during their lunch hour.

Read this article...

Samantha Vance Joins ERC as Research Associate

SamV 320 x 320

Highland Heights, Ohio – ERC, the 100-year-old human resource organization that provides training, HR consulting and support, coaching and assessments, and research services, is pleased to announce that Samantha Vance has joined the company as Research Associate.

In her role, Sam works with data to provide employers insights into practices that create and support great workplaces. She designs, analyzes, and interprets surveys and assessments across all practice areas and for the NorthCoast 99 awards program. 

Sam also offers project support both internally and to our clients in survey creation. She analyzes quantitative and qualitative data, performs statistical analysis, interprets results, makes recommendations, and drafts reports. 

Since March of 2019, Sam has served as a part-time research intern for ERC.

“We’re thrilled to have Sam join ERC full time and contribute to our research practice,” said Senior Vice President Carrie Morse. “We’ve been so impressed by her quality of work and professionalism over the past year.”

Sam has been particularly instrumental in analyzing and synthesizing benchmarking data as well as top-performer data for the NorthCoast 99 awards program. 

“Sam has already made notable contributions on the research team and for NorthCoast 99. I’m confident that she will continue to add value to our team and to our clients,” said Margaret Brinich, Manager of Surveys & Research.

“I love ERC, and I’m excited to join the company full time! Our work has such a meaningful impact on Northeast Ohio employers. It’s an honor to support our research team and make a difference in this capacity,” said Sam.

Sam earned her master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology research from Cleveland State University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in business administration from Ohio University.

ERC Real-Time Member Polls: Tell Us What Data You Need


In these challenging times, it's never been more important to share ideas and learn from each other. In March of 2020, ERC launched a new line of research focused on the most pressing issues that we hear about from our members.

These Member Polls are short and open for one day. Upon submitting responses, members see the real-time results instantly. The following business day, ERC posts the final results from all participants in ERC's connectwERC online forum for members.

Here are five of 18 polls that we've conducted and published since March:

We plan to conduct the following polls in the upcoming weeks:

  • Talent Acquisition Challenges During COVID-19
  • Long-Term Remote Work Options
  • Future Hiring Plans

How can we continue to serve you through this research series?

What are some additional poll topics that you would like to see covered? Please complete a brief survey (1-2 minutes) to share your thoughts and help us plan future polls. 

Take Survey




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Learn more about all the great benefits of ERC Membership!

ERC Senior Vice President Carrie Morse Named to Board of Dress for Success Cleveland

carrie-morseHighland Heights, OHERC Senior Vice President Carrie Morse has been named to the Board of Directors of Dress for Success Cleveland, a nonprofit that helps women break the cycle of poverty by supporting them in the working world.

Carrie has attended Dress for Success events over the years and was attracted to the mission of the organization. “It’s about much more than the suit. Dress for Success teaches women workplace skills, including resume writing, interviewing skills, and professionalism,” said Carrie. “Economic independence is key to a healthy life for self and family. This program helps lift women out of impoverished circumstances and gives them confidence.”

Dress for Success is part of a global movement for change, empowering woman to obtain safer and better futures. They have been in the Cleveland area for 20 years. The organization provides each client with professional attire to secure employment and furnishes her with a confidence she carries forever.

Donations are accepted in the form of gently used professional attire and monetary gifts. Dress for Success is also always looking for mentors and volunteers.

“My participation on the Dress for Success working board dovetails nicely with the mission of ERC,” said Carrie. The ERC mission is simply to make workplaces great. “We need great people in business everywhere, and this program helps women to achieve success as a contributor in the workplace.”

Kelly Keefe is President of ERC and encourages employee involvement in the community. “I am proud that Carrie has joined the Dress for Success Cleveland Board. At ERC, we have a long-standing commitment to giving back and serving in our community," said Kelly. "Volunteerism is a huge part of heart-centered leadership – exactly Carrie’s style – and just one reason she has been so successful in her roles here at ERC.”

Carrie oversees ERC’s Membership, Coaching, Training, and Consulting practices, and serves on both the leadership and management teams. She has been with ERC since 2002 in a variety of roles, including Vice President, Member Services & Partnerships; Director, Partnerships; and Director, Training & Events.

For 17 years, Carrie was chiefly responsible for the planning and execution of ERC’s NorthCoast 99, an annual recognition program and event that honors 99 great Northeast Ohio workplaces for top talent.

About ERC

Founded in 1920, ERC makes workplaces great by providing training, HR consulting and support, coaching and assessments, and research services. We’re the creators and producers of NorthCoast 99, an annual awards program in its 22nd year that honors exceptional Northeast Ohio employers for top talent. ERC also sponsors the ERChealth insurance program in Ohio.

Virtual Coaching: Guidance for Leaders, Teams, and Peer Groups During Crisis and Beyond


From virtual, one-on-one meetings to small group sessions, coaching produces positive change that develops top performers and drives organizational success – even during times of crisis.

In crisis situations, executives and their teams are challenged to make decisions and take actions that determine their organization's future. Successfully leading during unprecedented times will help sustain companies and their employees. Coaching is a partnership that provides a safe environment for open, honest questions, and discussion. Whether formal or informal, virtual or in person, ERC offers coaching services to leaders, teams, and peer groups.

Our certified and trained coaches are results-focused and bring the responsibility for sustainable change to an individual level – whether the objectives are qualitative, quantitative or both. We partner with a wide range of local, national, and global coaches, allowing us to match the right coach with every client.

Virtual Coaching for Leaders

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, leaders are facing new challenges and leading their people in an entirely new way. The pressure to make the right decisions is greater than ever. And even though they might not have all the answers, the best leaders know that there are outside resources to help them succeed. 

A professional coach is an excellent guide for leaders in times of crisis. A coach helps executives work through their priorities, using insights and reflections. A coach also serves as an outside voice to help leaders think through their actions and decisions. Rather than trying to work out issues alone, working alongside a coach can provide alternative perspectives. 

Coaching differs from mentoring, consulting, and counseling in that the coach is not an expert in a particular field, but in “holding up the mirror” of self-reflection and awareness. The result is positive individual change through introspection, goal-setting, and personal action. 

Virtual Coaching for Teams

In addition to leaders, coaches can greatly impact intact, internal teams. Coaching provides structure, support, and empowerment that allows teams to become more aware and adapt and integrate new behaviors. Such new behaviors create sustainable change. Coaches can discuss the best ways to work together in strenuous situations, and they can help review team actions and plans. While results are important, coaches primarily focus on helping teams successfully handle a broad range of challenges.

Virtual Coaching for Peer Groups

Different than team coaching, which provides support to intact, internal teams, group coaching is an external resource for a small group of peers who need guidance during periods of uncertainty and in everyday work life at their respective organizations. Coaching for peers offers an outside reference group and a professional coach who collectively focus on growth, learn best practices, and achieve positive results.

Group coaching is an affordable resource for leaders at all levels. During group coaching sessions, leaders discuss and work through current issues that they are facing in their work environments. Especially during times of change and crisis, group coaching provides much-needed solutions, support, and resources.  

Meet Alison Brunsdon

Director, Coaching & Assessment Services at ERC

AlisonAlison Brunsdon is a strategic, global talent leader with over 30 years of experience across a variety of industries and HR disciplines. She is an accomplished coach to leaders, teams, and individuals who has the vision and proven ability to drive transformative organizational change.

At ERC, Alison leads a robust coaching and assessments practice that is rooted in current methodologies and concrete research. She develops client relationships and oversees our executive coaching business, as well as our team of trained and certified coaches.

Alison also manages ERC’s full suite of selection and team-building assessments, using these ability and personality measures to complement our coaching solutions. 

Contact Alison for More Information


Laurie White Joins ERC as Instructional Designer, E-Learning Developer

LaurieHighland Heights, Ohio – ERC, the human resource organization that provides training, HR consulting and support, coaching and assessments, and research services locally and nationally, is pleased to announce that Laurie White has joined the company as Instructional Designer, E-Learning Developer.

Laurie has extensive experience creating e-learning modules for a variety of industries, including engineering, manufacturing, education, and biomedical research. She is skilled at crafting memorable e-learning experiences from challenging and highly technical subject matter.

In her role, Laurie is responsible for the development and implementation of ERC’s e-learning library and Learning Management System (LMS). She provides technical expertise for our training practice by designing and developing high-quality, interactive, and engaging online learning content.

By partnering with subject matter experts, trainers, and leaders, Laurie identifies learning needs and produces appropriate scripts and storyboards. She then brings to life dynamic, instructional learning interactions, simulations, online courses, microlearning objects, videos, games, and reinforcement activities. To measure learning outcomes, Laurie creates and implements assessments and evaluations. She also maintains an ongoing evaluation plan for the course methodology.

“We’re thrilled to have Laurie join ERC and lead our e-learning practice," said Senior Vice President Carrie Morse. "E-learning platforms offer many benefits for employers, including consistency in the delivery of the material, more flexibility with on-demand accessibility, and better results. As employers seek more virtual learning and development options, ERC is poised to provide our members and clients with quality, blended learning solutions."

Prior to ERC, Laurie worked at THORS eLearning Solutions, an organization that creates visually engaging online courses for the manufacturing industry. At THORS, she produced custom learning modules on proprietary topics and core engineering subjects to manufacturing clients and THORS e-learning subscribers.

“Given her outstanding instructional design experience, it’s an honor that Laurie has chosen to call ERC home,” said Sam Marx, Director, Client Service. “I’m confident Laurie will make valuable contributions to ERC’s training practice with her track record for delivering top-notch e-learning modules and exercises.”      

“I am thrilled to join ERC at such a pivotal moment in the company’s 100-year history. With the adoption of new technologies to enhance in-person training events and expand its virtual training reach, ERC recognizes the role e-learning is playing in making workplaces great," said Laurie. "I feel honored to contribute to ERC’s portfolio of training services.”

Laurie received her master's degree in creative writing from the University of Montana, and she earned her bachelor’s in English literature from Elmira College.  

About ERC
Founded in 1920, ERC makes workplaces great by providing training, HR consulting and support, coaching and assessments, and research services. We’re the creators and producers of NorthCoast 99, an annual awards program in its 22nd year that honors exceptional Northeast Ohio employers for top talent. ERC also sponsors the ERChealth insurance program in Ohio.

5 Popular ERC Webinars for Learning & Development


In addition to traditional training delivery methods, companies are seeking virtual alternatives for staff development and coaching. 

ERC, a human resource organization that provides training, HR consulting and support, coaching and assessments, and research services, offers a variety of custom training programs and courses. We can deliver training to your employees and business in several ways, including at our Training Center, at your location or virtually.

With state-of-the-art technology, ERC is fully equipped to provide learning and development in webinar format to local, national, and global organizations. Our training programs are facilitated by a team of more than 40 accomplished subject matter experts who bring real-world, practical experience to engaging, interactive sessions on over 100 topics.

Here are our five most popular courses, all of which can be delivered virtually:

1. Harassment Prevention

In the era of #MeToo, business leaders are charged to cultivate and sustain a workplace where all workers feel respected. This program provides guidelines on how to develop, manage, and maintain professionalism in the workplace. It covers the basics of what harassment is (and is not), and how it relates to race, sex, religion, age, and gender. Participants will understand the importance of creating an appropriate work environment, and they'll learn how to handle a complaint and conduct an investigation. Learn more.

2. Time & Priority Management 

Where does our time go? Time and priority management skills can boost the productivity and efficiency of your team. The purpose of this training is to help employees with busy schedules and performance requirements learn how to balance their time. It is ideal for individuals who manage their time and work, as well as the work of others. Participants will identify what issues are most central in their work life and learn how to set priorities. Learn more.

3. Supervisory Development

Managers often struggle with employee turnover and performance. In our supervisory series, attendees will gain fresh insights into their role, whether they've been newly promoted, never had formal training or want to develop better management skills and be more effective in their role. As a leading provider of supervisor training, ERC works with organizations to create a customized training solution. Learn more.

4. Communication Skills 

It's not always what you say. It's how you say it. Our communication skills workshops concentrate on how to improve interactions with others, become a better communicator, and manage information among peers. Participants will develop and enhance their skills using active listening techniques, conversations, and nonverbal strategies. Our Communication Skills training is often paired with our DiSC® Personality Assessment and Training for teams and individuals. Learn more.

5. Stress Management 

Balancing work, family, and life commitments may weigh on your staff. Our training provides stress management tips and techniques that will help your employees better cope and respond to stressful situations. Attendees will learn self-care strategies, and they'll be able to identify individual triggers that often influence their negative reactions. This class will help participants realize what stress is, understand the importance of mindfulness, and discover solutions to manage their stress. Learn more.

ERC can bring these virtual learning workshops and many others to your employees and business.

For more information, contact Chris Kutsko, Vice President, Learning & Development at ckutsko@yourERC.com or 440-947-1286.

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