Work - life balance: Why not Compensating an Employee for Training Time Can Be a Lose-lose situation

Why not Compensating an Employee for Training Time Can Be a Lose-lose situation

Author: Silvia Buonpadre Post date: 04-12-2017


From invading employees’ personal lives to adding burden onto the workload, unpaid training time out of regular working hours can create more stress as well as not improving the skills the training was designed to achieve.

Vague legislations and the rise of new technologies are raising the question: “when employers should pay for training sessions?”

It is commonly accepted that if a training course – which is aimed at improving the staff’s skills – is compulsory and it runs outside of regular working hours, employers are not obliged to consider said time as “working” and therefore should not pay their staff.

In my experience, if employees are not being compensated for the time spent at a job-related training provided by their company (especially if they have to study online at home), the attendees will quickly drop out of the course and they will feel less motivated to complete it.

In most cases, companies benefit by improving their employees’ expertise: 

  1. They are more likely to retain their employees,
  2. They will have higher skilled employees without having to pay them a higher salary,
  3. They will not hinder their staff’s work life balance,
  4. They can have, in some cases, the already trained staff to train the other employees on what they have learned, without paying for a consultant or for another training course,
  5. They can promote themselves as a company that cares and develops their teams and, in doing so, be more attractive and competitive when recruiting new people. 

Since I have worked in Southeast Asia, I have often heard employees attending online courses saying that they are grateful because their company is providing them with training and, since the company is already footing the bill, they should not demand to be compensated for the time they spend studying. As I have just listed above, that is wrong: your company is not doing you a favor. In fact, they are getting as much, or even more, out of it than the employees are.

Another scenario that I have seen, and that it turned out to be counterproductive, was having employees undertaking online or in-house courses without amending or reducing the employees’ workload and duties. Unsurprisingly, the result was that attendees felt more burned out, they skipped sessions or worked overtime to complete their regular tasks.

If companies are already going through the trouble of selecting a training provider, liaising with HR about the programs selected and, most importantly, paid for a training session, then why throw all this work away by not compensating their staff for improving their skills?

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