Professional Development / Training Budget

Hi there,
Does anyone have any recommendations on approaches to Professional Development and Training in a start-up company? Our company is supportive of investing in employees, currently on a case by case basis, however, interested to hear what other approaches have worked well. Also how do you propose a training budget for a start up in their second year.



At Culture Amp we have two programs that I particularly appreciate as an employee. We have had these programs in place since I joined three years ago (so relatively early in our life as a company).

1. Learn Yourself Up: Each employee is given $1,000 USD to spend on learning (work related and non work related). All learning events (conferences, trainings, courses, workshops, etc.) are logged in a google sheet - fully transparent to the rest of the organisation. Work related learning is reimbursed at 90% while non-work related events are reimbursed at 50%.

What we learned:

  • Originally, there was a monthly limit for the organization as a whole but we found some people made significantly more use out of the LYU budget. As we grew and with an aim to spread the learning opportunities a bit more evening across the org, we put a limit of $1,000 per employee, per year.

  • When I joined all training was reimbursed at 100% from the LYU budget. We changed it to 90% and 50% to reflect the relative value the organisation was getting from the ongoing professional development and to ensure employees had ‘skin in the game’.

2. Coaching for everyone: At the six month point after joining, every employee is entitled to free coaching sessions with an external coach. The topic of the sessions and the coach is chosen by the employee. I have found these sessions helpful for working on specific development goals and have benefited from the external coaching at multiple times here at Culture Amp.

Curious to hear what other professional development programs companies have experimented with. W

Hi Josh,

great - thanks for your reply. These are creative approaches to supporting PD.
I will explore these and see if they could be something we adopt here.


Hi Irene! I’ve worked at now 2 organizations as their first L&D hire and have built out our programs from the ground up.

My first piece of advice is figure out what your mission is for the L&D department. What does development mean to your organization? How will L&D not only help employees but also help meet business goals? This will make it easier to make the case for your budget.

In terms of budget, it sounds like you’re not concerned about resources besides people and their individual development. I’ve never had huge budgets to do super cool innovative things with, but have adapted to fit our org. For example, I took Culture Amp’s Learn Yourself Up, and Buffer’s Learning Stipend ideas and was approved for $500 every other month for anyone in our office team to apply for professional development opportunities (coursera, etc). We were also approved for $1000/mgr for field managers’ continuing education. My org puts more weight on the people who are providing customer service and experience every day which is why we are investing more in their development. We also know that without our field managers, we can’t keep expanding.

Happy to chat more if you ping me!

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Hi Alica,
Wonderful! this is very helpful. I like the approach Buffer have embraced.
Thanks again for your reply and guidance.

Hi Irene,

Similar to Josh from Culture Amp - at Jetts Fitness - we provide our team a minimum of $1000 AUD to spend on professional development.

The money can be used towards conferences, training courses, partial payment for university studies, workshops, professional subscriptions & books).

The process? We ask they complete a google form with the professional development information (dates, cost, copy of the course / quote) and ask them by attending this training event - how will this allow you to improve and grow in your current role? The form then goes to their leader to approve and then onto me to coordinate the learning.

The team just love being able to choose what they do, as opposed to being assigned learning paths.

  • Amanda, People & Culture Manager @ Jetts Fitness
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