Should your workers be learning on the clock?

Very few employers let staff take professional courses during company time – to their own detriment

Should your workers be learning on the clock?
If you expect your employees to stay up to date on the latest industry trends, regulations and best practice, but won’t give them time to learn at work, your company might be shooting itself in the foot.

Overwhelmingly, Canadian businesses don’t want staff studying on the clock, even when it’s directly relevant to their jobs.

A recent Robert Half Finance and Accounting survey of chief financial officers found just 24 percent allow all employees to attend professional education courses during their work day, while another 17 percent said it depends on the employee’s track record.

More than half – 56 percent – did not allow staff to take courses during company hours, although 15 percent had made exceptions in the past.

Cal Jungwirth, a Calgary-based branch manager for Robert Half, suggests employers should  shift their perspective to the "bigger picture" – especially if they expect employees to bring their new skills to work.

“A lot of that is the perception that it will inhibit the employee’s ability to get the job done,” he says.

There are multiple benefits to a company from letting their workers learn, "in terms of having better informed employees – they’re better technically, they’re better around compliance issues, better around ethical decisions".

A commitment to continued learning is also a major recruitment and retention tool – making your company more attractive both to prospective hires and existing employees.

“They want to feel like they’re growing in their career, and one of the big deciding factors in joining an employer often comes down to [the] opportunity to grow, for an individual – that plays into morale, job satisfaction. Organizations could use it for leadership development, they can use it for succession planning. That’s a real sell to the individual.”

As well as creating individualized learning and development plans for employees, HR professionals should consider how courses during office hours might benefit the company – especially where there’s a knowledge gap.

“It’s about evaluating the different options: looking at courses that can contribute to help the individual grow, and then, obviously, mutually benefit the organization.”

Related stories:
Why bite-sized learning may be more appetizing
‘Don’t be afraid to lose your best people’

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