Money Talks. What’s Your Budget Saying to Employees?

by Mar 8, 2020

Let’s kick off this new year by talking about something that may make you a little uncomfortable:  Money.

Specifically, your organization’s 2020 budget. (Feeling better now that you know we’re not talking about your money?)

Leaders spend months planning out the budget, arguing about how resources should be allocated, and pushing for those extra dollars to get stuff done.

The final product, your budget, is one way your organization communicates goals to employees for the upcoming year.

In other words, it lets employees know what is important to leadership. For example, if 20% of the budget is going towards business development activities, that sends the message that the leaders have growth on their minds.

What’s left out of the budget also sends the message to employees about what is NOT important.

I gotta ask, are you telling employees you care about their professional development, but aren’t putting aside the budget to provide those opportunities? 

If so, then you’re sending a mixed message. You’re also making a promise to employees that you don’t have the resources to execute, which might cause them to lose trust in you and faith in the organization. 

This enewsletter was inspired by an idea we had internally, to create a line item in the budget called, “we care,” and use it to allocate resources to employee-centric initiatives. Even if it’s just a couple hundred dollars that you spend on a wellness day, you’re telling your employees that their wellbeing is at the top of the priority list.

Here at Civility Partners, our “we care” line item will include funds for team lunches, gifts, and some fun activities. (I’m thinking of trying an Escape Room so I can understand why they’re all the rage these days!)

We also suggest creating a line item for each of your core values.

We often talk about ways to live your core values, and creating a budget for them is one way to do so.

If one of your core values is respect, you might allocate part of the budget for activities that reflect that value, like civility training for everyone. Or if one of your core values is innovation, you could set aside money for employees to take courses or learn new techniques in your industry. 


Take a look at your budget for 2020 and ask yourself, “What message is this budget sending to my employees?” Now, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. 

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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