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Is Training an Employee Benefit?

Submitted by  on July 26th, 2012

Two business men holding checkI see some Human Resources folk wanting to calculate the monetary value of training so that they can include it in their calculations of an employee’s total rewards package. There may be some merit in that for education programs, such as MBAs, where the employee will use the benefits for their own career progression.

However, there is a real danger in including all of an employee’s training in their total rewards sum. Why? Consider carefully the message that is given to the employee by the organization when it includes training as a rewards benefit. It comes down to the question of whether employee training is a strategic and operational imperative for the business or a perk of the job.

For years, I’ve been encouraging HR people to think about training not primarily as an employee benefit but as a strategic lever in getting business results. Where I see the wrong-headed approach most starkly is when HR folk make up the annual training calendar. They tour around the company asking employees what training they “want”. And then HR is surprised when most of the seats at the training sessions remain empty (after HR spent their total training budget on scheduling the courses). You see, when you treat training as an optional “extra”, it quickly falls by the wayside when operational priorities are tight.

I think we only reinforce this mentality when we speak of training as an employee benefit. We do need to focus on what the business needs. What are its strategic imperatives? What are its capability shortfalls? We need to be spending energy on working out where is the best place to spend our limited dollars, and then in measuring whether we achieved the business results that we set out to achieve. Now that’s a different mindset compared with lumping training in with gym membership.

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Posted in Training | Comments (3)

3 Responses to “Is Training an Employee Benefit?”

  1. Karen Carleton Says:

    I have not seen Training included with total benefits for employees. What I’ve seen: X amount of dollars approved on a case by case basis, to top up any mandatory training. Investments should be targeted for a win-win – benefiting the business AND the employee. The fuzzy part is the transfer of learning and environmental barriers that prevent it. Of course, training that keeps being sponsored that’s not measured or reported on (accountability) clearly sounds like a luxury worth of a cut. I see both sides – investing in L & D and ensuring it’s the right kind, right time, right employee/group.

    Too often as ASTD stats and transfer experts tell us, there is a plethora of “training scrap” which doesn’t make the case for sponsoring more. And how many people pay for gym memberships they don’t use? home gym equipment with laundry on it? Some training suffers a similar fate.

  2. Leslie Allan Says:

    Hi Karen, You’re dead right. Each program needs to be a win-win. Focusing exclusively on the benefit for the employee may seem motivating for the employee, but in all too many cases leads to wasted dollars and very poor training transfer to the job, as you point out.

    Regards, Les Allan

  3. Tucker Marsano Says:

    I definitely agree with both of you, training should be for the sake of empowering employees so that they can in turn perform better for their company. However, a company should never feel like they are essentially ‘rewarding’ employees with training when they are the ones planning to benefit in the end.


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