How to Convince Your Boss to Pay for Your Event Attendance
In a year that increasingly offers tantalizing glimpses of normalcy, many HR professionals are eager to resume attending educational and industry events (safely, of course). For many, these events are an opportunity to earn certification, advance professional development, make new connections and build new skills.
Among younger workers, training and professional development is especially important. In fact, according to research by Deloitte, millennials would like to see time dedicated to professional development and leadership skills expand by two-thirds. Given the cutbacks and disruptions of our pandemic year, pent-up demand for professional development and advancement may be much higher.
If you’re interested in attending an industry educational event or conference, how can you convince your boss not only should you attend but also that the company should pay? Best practices suggest you should put on your sales hat for the ask. This means putting together a pitch focused on how your attendance will benefit the company. Here’s how you might create a mini proposal to convince your boss.
Start with the benefits
Make sure your ask is structured to communicate the benefits to your boss and the company. This is especially important if you’re asking for funds to cover registration, travel and lodging. You’ll want to speak to what you’ll learn and how it can be applied to your current projects or role. Think broadly, from what you might learn in a session to how you could advance vendor research for a company need via an exhibitor hall like The HRSouthwest Conference’s Marketplace.
A truly effective proposal will include details to make your boss take notice. Connect the benefits of your attendance to a specific internal initiative or challenge your organization is facing. Focus on how you can bring new perspectives and ideas to the table after attending. If an event includes hours toward certification or recertification, be sure to include this information and emphasize how certification benefits your organization.
You might also include information on the event itself if your boss isn’t familiar with it. For example, you can share that HRSouthwest Conference is the “HR industry event of the year” with more than 2,000 attendees from throughout the Southwest and the country.
Prepare a cost summary
In addition to event specifics, you should be prepared with a budget. Create a cost summary that includes registration and what it covers as well as the cost of materials, workshops, travel, daily lodging, and any meals or other incidentals.
If there are discounts for early registration, be sure to highlight these along with the dates for which the pricing is valid—and how much the cost increases after.
Focus on value
These are tight times for many companies, as hiring and salary freezes, reduced revenues, and other concerns have been part of the pressure of the last year. Be sure to tie your cost summary again to value, emphasizing what you’ll be able to bring back to your role and the company as a result of your attendance. For example, if your company has been considering hiring a consultant to address a need you might be able to fill with further education, highlight this. If you’re going to learn new skills that could make something more efficient or advance an initiative, tie your ask to this outcome.
Some events are a single day; others involve travel that may take you out of the office for a few days or even a week. As part of your pitch, be sure you communicate how you’ll address your daily duties and/or be responsive while attending the conference or event.
In the time of COVID, it can be important to also understand safety precautions and concerns, even if you and your coworkers are fully vaccinated. Be sure you understand the health and safety protocols at the event you’re proposing to attend, from contactless check-in to temperature checks, social distancing, and more. If you need to provide a negative COVID test or self-isolate upon your return, be sure you’ve thought through these steps.
Ask for consideration
Choose a time to approach your boss when he or she has time and attention for your proposal, and provide a document that communicates your request, outcomes, and cost summary. It’s unlikely you’ll get a decision on the spot, so you’ll want to be clear on the timeline for making a decision in time to take advantage of early-bird registration, for instance.
Looking for more direction or inspiration? Our “convince your boss” letter template provides guidance for creating your ask.
DallasHR is the third largest SHRM affiliate chapter in the nation. With more than 2,300 engaged HR professionals, the Chapter has been Advancing the Value of HR since 1939 through cutting-edge education, fun networking events and opportunities to share best practices with others in the field of HR. The Chapter powers The HRSouthwest Conference, one of the largest regional HR events in the U.S. held annually in Fort Worth, Texas. DallasHR events are held in both Dallas and Collin Counties. Visit us at dallashr.org to join or hrsouthwest.com to register and follow us at #DALLASHR, #HRSWC.