In the October 1, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter an HR manager complains about the cost of employees quitting right after they complete training.

Question

quittingCan we charge new hires a penalty when they quit and leave us short-staffed? Can an employer state in an employment contract that if the new hire does not stay for a certain number of days, we retain the right to withhold $X to reimburse us for the time we spent training them? This Generation X and their job-hopping is costing this hospital tens of thousands and we are trying to find ways to teach them – work or lose money. Use us – lose money. We’re having a tough time with it. I did research. You came up.

Nick’s Reply

It’s troubling that any employer would ask this question, but even more troubling that you signed your e-mail with PHR after your name, which means you’ve passed the test for a Professional in Human Resources certification. Really: GenX is costing you money?

I’m not a lawyer. I suggest you reach out to a good employment and labor attorney for advice. However, my guess is that an employer can include any terms it wants in an agreement as long as they are not illegal. After all, no one is required to sign it. The question is, do you — a PHR — really want to go there?

Costs of training and quitting

Now I’ll give you my opinion: An employer should never require reimbursement for its time training new hires. It’s part of the investment we make in people. (This is different from a company offering paid education benefits – e.g., cash to help earn a degree relevant to the job. Education benefits are optional and usually granted under a separate written agreement.)

Quitting is an overhead cost. Not all people will stay, and you can’t make them pay you. Training on a new job, new skills, and time to come up to speed are all components of compensation — all of which they get to keep.

Training is part of what entices a person to accept a job. Who wants to make a move to a job that’s not going to improve their skills, knowledge and expertise – not to mention pay? (Some people will wisely trade higher salary for training and new skills. But in this market, I think they know they can expect both!)

If you don’t see my points, try this: Advertise jobs that require applicants to cover their own overhead costs. Tell them they must pay for training if they get hired. Lotsa luck.

The training investment

Training its employees is how every company helps improve and develop the overall worker pool. It’s an investment in the economy that everyone benefits from, even if in some instances it causes a loss due to worker mobility. If every company insisted on “owning” the training and experience it gives to new hires, how would the labor pool keep up with changes in technology? More to the point, how would you attract the best workers with nothing more than salary?

Of course, you should not hire anyone that you suspect plans on quitting after training is done. (I don’t think many job seekers play that game. More likely, some other factor is making them move on.) But it’s HR’s job — and the hiring manager’s — to assess and judge job candidates. Are we ready to take a risk with this particular candidate?

There are of course no guarantees to any business decision. Or, for that matter, to personal decisions. For example, can we get our money back if we decide to marry someone that decides to move on?

Who pays for quitting?

Your job in HR is to make good judgments and hiring choices. If the new hire quits too soon, should your pay be docked? Should the hiring manager’s pay be docked?

Let’s take this to the next logical step. If a new hire isn’t as productive as expected, should a company be able to recover the difference from them as restitution for lost profits? Where does this end?

You asked whether an employment contract might be the solution, by making reimbursement explicit. But, are you really prepared to give new hires an employment contract? Unless it’s for a C–suite position, I doubt it! If you in fact use employment contracts for all your hires, then I say more power to you – and include any terms you think you can get away with! Just remember that sound contracts are designed to benefit both parties. (See Employment Contracts: Everyone needs promise protection.)

For example, I’d advise any job candidate to consider signing your contract only if it includes compensating terms. For example, the hire will agree to reimburse you for training only if you agree to a severance package of $X if you terminate the hire at any time for any reason other than “cause.” Seems fair, doesn’t it? What fault of the new hire’s is it if your management team makes decisions that lose money and force a downsizing? Shouldn’t you be on the hook for the hire’s lost income?

Competitive edge

Quitting and job hopping are symptoms, not the problem. The problem is jobs and employers that don’t satisfy workers. People hop because you’re not being competitive. Your competition offers them a better deal that might include new skills and training in addition to higher pay. That’s why we refer to it as a job market.

Consider this analogy: If your company’s customers “hop” to a competitor that offers a better product, whose fault is it? Or, is it actually a signal telling you to improve your product? I suspect that other problems are triggering employees to hop after they complete training at your company. Your competitive edge is understanding why people stay.

Your assumptions may be the problem

I appreciate your company’s difficulties, but I think your attention is misplaced. Peter Cappelli, a labor researcher at the Wharton School, suggests that employers themselves own the problems they blame on workers. (See Why Companies Cannot Find the Employees They Need.)

The “talent shortage,” says Cappelli, is actually a problem of affordability. Employers are not willing to pay market value for the talent they need. (Just look at the paltry increases in pay reported by the Department of Labor, in a time when unemployment is low and demand is high.)

More relevant to your question, Cappelli’s findings suggest the real problem is a “training shortage.” Attracting and keeping good workers may be more difficult today because employers have drastically cut their investments in training and employee development. Employers seem to insist on “just in time labor” – people who’ve done the job for five years, already possess the requisite skills, and are willing to do the same work for a new employer for less pay. But who aspires to such an “opportunity?”

Your organization is doing the smart thing – providing training. But I think your assumptions may be incorrect. My advice is to offer training without a catch, then make sure something else isn’t triggering quitting. Use training as an enticement to attract the best workers. But also look at the other factors that help you keep your new hires. I’m not going to tell you what they are. You should figure it out and act to keep your employees happy. Isn’t that what HR’s job is?

I see you sent your e-mail after you viewed the Talk to Nick section of my website. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, I’d be glad to talk with you.

I wish you the best.

Who owns what you learn at a job? Should employers be able to recover employee training costs? Should you ever be penalized for quitting? Do job-hopping GenXers need a lesson?

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77 Comments
  1. >More likely, some other factor is making them move on.)

    My guess is either low pay or temp to perm postion. Plenty of people will leave those for a permanent postion (and even take a pay cut!) At the first chance they get. Why should they stick with you ,when you might offer them a job?

    Here is an idea, if you want long term employees set up an amazing pension plan,commit to regular raises, cointuinal training and the gold watch of yesteryear.

    Commit to the defined contribution pension plan and other benefits the older worker enjoyed and you will attract the younger workers with a similar work ethic.

    Of course that costs a lot more than the job hoppong,but you get what you pay for.

    • No employers SHOULD NOT be able to make employers pay forma quiting shortly after training!!!. I am 57 years of age, i have been working from age 15 years old. I have NEVER experienced a supervisor cursing at myself and other employees in a very loud and disrespectful manner before no any other job that i have has through out the years of me working. I was hired at a company in west Lafayette, IN on 7/19/2019 and i quit the job on 9/27/2019.Because i and other employees were literally being yelled at and curses out by a supervisor on the work floor. She was and is totally not caring about her employees OR the company’s well being. She would stand very close in front of me with her face almost touching my face and would scream at me while using cursing and vulgar language, she used the f ck word to us several times. I complained to HR about her and she treated me even worse. That supervisor caused a hostil work enviroment forma the company. I dont know why they did not diré her on the spot! If that same supervisor who swear, curse and yell at us would have heard an employee talking like that to herself or another person of authority, she would have fired us on the spot. It became unbearable for me so “I HAD TO QUIT “. SO NO I KNOW THAT EMPLOYERS SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO MAKE US EMPLOYEES PAY FOR THEIR BAD HIRING DECISIONS.I HAD good attendance and im a hard worker too, i put out fast Paced, good quality work. HR did not want me to quit. I was going to vive a 2week notice but decided just to quit, it was unbearable.

      • No employee should have to pay for what ? half the job tradings really doesn’t prepare you for what the job entails anyway most company hire for bodies , attempts to get companies retentions up, the friends and family program not skills and knowledge and abilities to preformed effectively in the position . Poor hiring practices. If an employee doesn’t feel the job is the right fit they have every right to leave it free and clear . What about compensation for the employees that was wrongfully terminated or harassed or workplace bullied, or subjected to all types of discrimination? Address those issues.

        • I agree, you should’nt have to reimburse the company for training. I was hired by a company an we had to sign a contract. To reimburse, them if we quit before a certain amount of time. But ,we worked almost six months on the job training before we were sent to basic recruit training. Their seems to be time discrepancies as to when your two years starts. Now we are having to work ,extended days an work on our days off. This is why you have an employee shortage. They’re employee shortage is worse now than when I started.

      • I know how you feel.I’ve worked for several people who treated their employees like crap.l actually worked for one guy who was not only verbally abusive,I asked him a question and he wigged out started swearing,then threw a big adjustable wrench at me.This was after being there for only two weeks.At the end of the shift that night,I just grabbed my tools and walked out.

      • Could end up very worse for a Employer a disgruntal employee with some mental health issues might come back armed and gun everybody down where he was working I would say them that person glad you were here sorry to lose you so fast and wish them better luck in the next job no more mad employee but a happy one. Training someone is the price of doing business. Just hope that person don’t come back angry and armed

    • This person is ignorant. Never been in HR or hired a soul BUT even I see the flaws. You realize that if you make people pay to quit, you’d have less people quit, BUT your staff would be full of employees that WANTED to quit and just couldn’t afford it. You really think that’s going to be the best workforce? Then, you’d be here writing an email asking why people your staff was “lazy” and “inefficient”, when the answer is simple… they don’t WANT to be there…

      • True, and hope that employee don’t have mental health issues and own a weapon, your playing with fire, get over your self and wish the employee better luck in the next job. I had let people go when they wanted to leave I even bought them lunch paid them in full and wished them luck none ever came back looking to harm us hey but that’s just me

    • Bra-freakin-vo! I would never take a job where I would owe them if I leave. Life doesn’t work that way… That’s the issue with employers…their employees are more vital than their profits. Too many people have the opposite view

  2. it all boils down to market economics…

    if the training is that great, I would not leave and accept a contract clause indicating my will to pay for leaving (but I will not leave as the training is so wonderful)

    if they can convince a candidate to join under those conditions, fair enough!

    that is IF they were a solid employer.

    now reality check: if they have the problem that people are leaving, the most likely outcome is that no one will even consider joining.

    I would fire the HR manager and strip him of his PHR qualification – poor lad …
    I would also thoroughly look at the senior management of the company – but then, every company gets the management it deserves…

  3. “It’s troubling that any employer would ask this question, but even more troubling that you signed your e-mail with PHR after your name, which means you’ve passed the test for a Professional in Human Resources certification.”

    The naivete shown by the letter writer is concerning. I sometimes wish they would comment :)

    For starters, isn’t employee turnover an inevitable cost of doing business? You can have the greatest hiring process, wages/benefits, training, work environment, etc. and people will still quit/get fired/get laid off. In this case, it seems like the employer doesn’t understand this and wants to go full nuclear and squeeze blood from a stone.

    “Let’s take this to the next logical step. If a new hire isn’t as productive as expected, should a company be able to recover the difference from them as restitution for lost profits? Where does this end?”

    Thanks for pointing this out. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    I agree that the employer would likely not be willing to guarantee (large) remuneration up front for these employees if they happened to be laid off.

    “The problem is jobs and employers that don’t satisfy workers. People hop because you’re not being competitive. Your competition offers them a better deal that might include new skills and training in addition to higher pay. That’s why we refer to it as a job market.”

    I’ve read studies that would indicate that the top reason people leave is their manager/the manager and second is cash (I’d argue this is dependent on the former). It seems no one wants to deal with the elephant in the room, that their own management may suck – it’s much easier to blame employees/candidates.

    I also want to point out that many of the same people will scream “free market” or “capitalism” when it suits them and then will turn around and basically want their “losses” socialized, instead of making the proper investments themselves. In this case, they want fully trained workers or at least workers that won’t quit right away so they can recoup any recruitment/training cost. But, they are not giving employees any compelling reason to stay. It may require a little bit of creative thinking to accomplish this. I know in some industries/jobs, employers would give employees bonuses if they stayed at least two years, and the bonus was slowly paid out over the third year. So, it would be stupid for someone to leave.

    “Employers seem to insist on ‘just in time labor’ – people who’ve done the job for five years, already possess the requisite skills, and are willing to do the same work for a new employer for less pay. But who aspires to such an ‘opportunity?'”

    I’ve read research in I/O Psych that would indicate that years of experience/education has lower correlation with on the job success. But it seems the average “PHR” I’ve met thinks this constitutes blasphemy.

    • These same PHRs also pooh-pooh “unpaid” experience. So fuggedaboutit with learning through hobbies and volunteering.

      • Funny story.

        I once went to a recruiting agency for an “interview.”

        We talked over my experience and I had mentioned I had some code on github, I was teaching myself stuff. I asked if that counted. The recruiter then asked “Is it in production? Do you have references?” I’m like, yes, here’s the URL and you can access the application and code, why do I need references?

        It should also be noted that in the same research, references are also a poor indicator on the job success. The best methods to judge applicants tend to be exercises that measure attributes needed for doing the actual job. Why waste time chasing down references, when we could be discussing the code I wrote?

        • < Why waste time chasing down references, when we could be discussing the code I wrote?

          Because that requres the interviewer to actually understand the job, any idiot (without a speech or hearing issue) can make a phone call.

        • @Craig: You succinctly reveal the real problem. Invalid interviewers.

      • Hi I have worked as a medical professional for over twenty years. When it became convenient for the company to let me go they did. When it’s better for an employee to leave a company you want to cry foul? Sham on you! In the state where I work before I take a job I am always reminded that the job is at will employment for the company and for me and either one of us can terminate at any time for any reason. Maybe the rules in your state are different. Also with all the layoffs going on in this day and age most employer’s don’t expect people to stay. People who stay long term cost more money. Many people find themselves under employed in thier fifties after being laid off suddenly from a job they thought was secure. It works both ways PHR.

  4. I think the real question is: Why do you have trouble hanging on to new hires?

    An honest assessment might be in order, rather than blaming some subsegment of the work force.

    • Because it’s the easy thing to do. Path of least resistance.

      Plus, they can’t get blamed if they implement changes and they still have high turnover.

    • I left my last employer right after training because I didn’t know the company micromanages its employees so much. The supervisors have no respect for the employees and they made a simple job very stressful. I left for less money than what I was getting.

      • This happened to me too I went through the interview started doing the testing at home and then when I needed help going to the next step they needed to okay it and it said it needed to be done by a certain date not because of me but because of them it was turned in late they did not accept that their HR couldn’t find the time to push a button to okay it to finish the testing it took them three days begging them to find somebody that could push the button so I could finish the testing and that’s when I decided this would not be a good company to work for

  5. Finance manager asks, “What if we train them and they leave?”
    Operations manager answers, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?”

    • That’s a classic quote that seems more true today than ever.

  6. Some IT consulting companies do something like this. They value their “training” at some huge number and you owe them that if you leave early.

    The worst ones do this every year, so you must pay an exit fee any time you leave.

    • @Bob: Any two parties can sign any kind of agreement as long as it’s not illegal. Many job seekers are under the impression that they “have to sign.” Consulting firms capitalize on this.

  7. Thabk you for my morning chuckle, Nick!

    The author’s letter drips with condescension and I can feel the toxicity emanating from it; I’ve worked for several shops that had the same attitude.

    I have yet to be convinced otherwise that HR (like payroll) is generally a “commodity department,” that is to say it can be outsourced and done by any third party (think ADP for the payroll function).

    This HR person is concerned with retention is inappropriate (thus their incredibly incompetent solution). It is the Hiring Managers’ issue to deal with.

  8. Hospitals can be extremely toxic work environments. They attract narcissists and sociopaths, especially in management. It’s a wonder that people stay, not that they leave.

    • I did a tour of duty in a hospital. Toxic management wasted tons of money in order to hire narcissists, sociopaths and people with the social skills of a Southern Plantation Owner (think the fictional Calvin J. Candie from “Django Unchained”), at least as far as treatment of anyone with less than eight years of college was concerned.

      And they wondered why they couldn’t keep operational staff.

  9. “For example, I’d advise any job candidate to consider signing your contract only if it includes compensating terms.”

    It’s interesting that the author is so focused on the risks taken by the company, without any consideration for the risks taken by the employee by accepting the position. If they want the employee to sign a contract that requires the employee to reimburse for training, is the company willing to reimburse for not only lost wages, but reimbursement for relocation, lost spouse wages and the like in the all too frequent situation where the employee uproots their entire family to accept the role, only to be let go as an “at will employee” 1 month in?

    • Come on, we all know employee risks don’t REALLY count. Right?

      Sadly, too many employers these days actually feel this way.

  10. So let me get this straight, the solution to poor employee retention is to make the workplace less desirable. Along the way, blame Gen X (at least millennials dodged the blame this time) for being uncooperative. Sounds like a winning workplace!

    My fear is that the hospital develops the contract but won’t mention the contract until the employee’s first day. Hey, they signed it voluntarily, right?

    The REAL solution is to make the workplace more attractive. Perhaps better working conditions, better compensation, and improved management culture would go further.

    Who am I kidding, that costs money. Let’s just threaten new hires with lawsuits. That’ll improve recruiting!

    Sadly, there’s a fighting chance my sarcasm will be missed, and a policy along these lines will be implemented.

  11. PHR heal thyself

    Hiring’s a risk. Which the hired can reduce by a respectful, timely recruiting process inclusive of savvy interviewers, a considerate on-boarding process and decent managers and good people and mission management.

    Job hunting’s a risk. Which can be eased by a good plan, good research, good networking, savvy interviewing, backed by good work ethics, and ongoing professional competence & development.

    It’s a wash. If PHR would even entertain the idea of fining someone who parts company (very likely firing a boss really), PHR should consider paying said new hire for wasting his/her time. It’s a wash

  12. Oops that 1st sentence…the hirer can reduce

  13. When I read this letter, it makes me think of 3 possible problems.

    1 – The company is toxic. People are accepting jobs for the training, but exposure to the company makes them leave then.

    2 – The company thinks the training is enough of a bonus to keep employees even though they’re under
    paid.

    3 – There is a more competitive employer paying more, but only after someone has been trained, and people are getting jobs specifically for the training so they can switch.

    There’s almost no fix for the first issue, which starts at the top requiring changes at all levels, practically starting over.

    But, the second two are the same solution. As Nick mentioned, “People hop because you’re not being competitive.”. Just pay them more.

    For the second scenario, it’s either missing continued training, or simply not paying them enough.

    For the third scenario, the competition has discovered that it’s cheaper for them to pay more than you without the expense of training. Simply paying more solves this one too.

    The only hedge I can think of, is tying the increase in pay to time after the training. Start, get the training, after a year you get a pay raise of X just for staying. It’s important to note, the final value after the raise must be HIGHER than the current pay. Reducing the starting pay, so that the raise only get’s back to the current pay will not help. Instead it would eliminate hires to begin with. We already know it’s not enough money to keep people, starting with less and then getting back to the same value wouldn’t be enough incentive to stay.

    • @Matt: Interesting challenge in your suggestion. I’d love to know what HR folks think of this.

  14. My last specialty hospital job was very toxic. Staff was miserable. Management was all about the dollars (profit).Conflict among different departments based on this profit driven model. So to the letter writer: fix what is truly broken and that is your management style. Not the people who decide they don’t want to work for what you are offering.

  15. Some jobs just try to use new employees to do everything and they treat us like shit and lots of jobs are not permitted either plus scrappy pay ,, we shouldn’t pay u crap ,, if it’s a good job then people will stay but the ones been there longer don’t like new employees , so fix the problem and fire older employees maybe u wouldn’t have to pay bunch of overtime to older employees but the older employees be crying because they don’t want to work and they want a new employees to do all the work for them period , fire the manager , supervisor and the older employees and please stop hiring junkies because I’ve seen lots of junkies driving semi trucks getting high on drugs ,, careful movers in San Antonio hires bunch of junkie drivers and they steal ,, plus they don’t like someone that is drug free ,, so they doc u for everything that these junkies mess up and they hiring manager is a junkie too. Say in school and say no to drugs

  16. I like that the HR manager is blaming Gen-X. People have been blaming Gen-X for everything since the 90’s, isn’t it time to blame the Millennials for everything that ails society? Get with the times. The author doesn’t even know which demographic to be biased against.

    • Employers in general, as well as everyone else, need to stop blamining the millennial generation and the GenX for everything. The reason why these two generations “jop hop” is either they are working contract, seasonal, temporary jobs that pay little, offer little to no benefits or work in jobs that expect one average employee to work quickly, do the work of two, three, or four people at a time(and expecting such consistency on a daily workday schedule 95% – 100%) while giving them a 40 hour workload to be completed in 8 hour workdays. Employers are exploiting their employees and offering them next to nothing and then complain that they quit. Then having the audacity to charge them for quitting? These two generations are not being given true opportunities to grow, mature, improve, and excel morally, spiritually, professionally, and personally.

  17. If that is the case we employees should be able to sue the employer for letting us go in a right to work state or charge them for not keeping up for a certain time

  18. I work for a construction company, been there a year with no raise. I looked inside the company at different departments to see what paid more. In a 3 month time span I changed departments 4 times and increased my pay by $7.50 per hr. Management is like going to a day care that’s why I’m leaving for a much higher paying job 2000 miles from my present location with an awesome company with awesome benefits. Your management is your problem not your employees.

    • There’s a saying “There are no bad companies, just bad managers.” I don’t know if I fully agree with it but it’s certainly something to chew on.

  19. These companies are full of crap. They have “at-will” firings and don’t have to pay unemployment. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable for employees to quit because they are being asked to do their position descriptions and wear multiple hats for low pay. Employees should be able to come and go at-will.

  20. There appears to be a common thread of understanding running through most of the answers/comments I’ve read above. That being ….”your management is the problem”! Having been “recruited” into better opportunities several times I find myself labelled as a jumper; that means to me that any employee that leaves for a better opportunity is seen by their former management as wrong. What’s wrong with management these days; afraid of competition?

  21. PHR is clueless when asking people to sign employment contracts. as nick stated the only persons possibly being offered contracts are at the C level. HR 101 contracts are bad for many reasons at lower levels. You are asking for a Union when employees are bound by contracts and in most states they are not enforceable. I guess the SHRM PHR training course didn’t cover contracts. The SHRM scam is to offer the PHR so they may peddle their PHR Training course which is a revenue source.

    • I used to hold a PHR. Before starting my exam prep, I had a lot of experience in a sub-field of HR. I took a graduate level prep course under a fabulous, experienced HR professional at a local university. I worked my way through the foot-high stack of material that comprised the basis of the PHR exam. There was a lot to learn. The exam was tough but I passed on the first try. Despite earning a PHR, I did not consider myself by any means an expert in everything HR, just someone who knew the basics and understood that, when situations go beyond one’s expertise, get help.

      On thing that definitely was part of the knowledge that backs up a PHR is the concept that, if employee retention is an issue, the employer need to find out the reasons why employees leave and fix it -bad hiring practices, noncompetitive compensation, problems with working conditions, etc. The letter writer appears to be blind to whatever internal force is pushing recent hires away.

      • @Former: Thanks for posting. You’re the only HR person to share comments. I’m surprised. I invited the OP to participate.

        • Nick,

          You missed my reply above stating that the SHRM PHR process is a revenue enhancing scam for the SHRM lobbying group. I am a recovering corporate HR Jock of 30 years.

        • @Dave: Thanks for the disclosure. You didn’t mention you’re an HR Jock in your previous comment. All the more better!

  22. What about the time and gas money i waste going to interviews and the interviewer just moves on to another person. This makes 10 interviews , wasted gas money, wasted time, . then what about the employee being trained. Are they just wasting your time. No. An employee is using their time too away from family away from other jobs, away from fun with friends. An employee is giving you their time before they are ever getting paid!

  23. What a horrible question and thing to think!

  24. After leaving the military and getting my Bachelor’s in 2010 I worked for a job that paid 15 bucks an hour. I was great at it. But the pay was low. I did overtime which helped but had little to no social life, I spent a month in training and 2 months on the job before I got a job that paid more, where after 7 years I was able to achieve 6 figure salary.

    This person’s company should look at its pay and benefits package. Requiring people to pay for their training is part of a slave wage system and should never be considered.

  25. I have a solution for this HR person.

    Yes, make a contract saying that the employee will have to compensate the company if they leave early due to the cost of training.

    As fair consideration, the company will have to pay the employee if the employee feels the training is inadequate. Payment to be made as tuition to the training program of the employee’s choosing. Also, time at the training is on the clock with the employee earning wages and benefits.

    The amount of the tuition is the fair value the employer puts on the training. Make them, literally, put their money where their mouth is.

  26. The issue the mentality of executive worship. The thinking that lower level employees can be easily replaced. While it is true that those without post secondary training or education earning potential is higher, the is an inverse relation to their employability.

    The more education, the more focused their job needs to be. You wouldn’t hire someone with a MBA to be a manager of a fast food place. Those without post secondary training however actually have a higher employability. They can move anywhere and find a job.

    The average employee salary has remained stagnant for over a decade, while executive salary continues to climb. People say that minimum education means minimum pay, or I’ve got a degree and only make X why should they make the same as me? What we should be asking is why aren’t I making more. We are fighting over the executive four star scraps, instead of demanding a two or three star plate for ourselves.

  27. I just signed on with Precision Drilling this week… If I quit within the first 90 days, I owe them $859 for the reimbursement of a drug test and physical… It is a condition of employment in their contracts. Never heard of such a thing.

    • Always read the contract carefully. Fees for drug tests and physicals are way over the top! That’s a company’s cost of doing business!

  28. Someone has bumped thier head. Can we charge companies for hiring someone into a hostile or unprofessional work environment? For failing to provide the proper training? Just silly..

  29. Employers should compensate applicants for all the time and energy spent interviewing and then receiving a boilerplate response or no response at all.

  30. I would think the reason an employee would want to leave their new employment A. is because they were promised a certain amount of money after completing training and that doesn’t happen B. The company itself was being run haphazardly nothing like getting into your truck and finding out that your truck and trailer is being held together by string and tape and C. That management is in total chaos and your immediate supervisor has no clue and cares not about the employees or the equipment just get the deliveries done and don’t hit anything I have come from a company just like I have just mentioned managers yell at you for no reason equipment never gets repaired or only enough to get it back on the road if you’re a long-term associate and they hire new people and pay them more than what you are being paid then that’s a problem as a seasoned employee and you know the ins and outs of what has to be done and you do the job with minimum amount of supervision and then they hire somebody that’s just coming out of driver training school and they pay them more money than what you’re being paid and they get the lighter runs then yes I totally understand somebody leaving and if the new hires see the old guys leaving why would the younger guys want to stay there? As for paying back for training there’s a lot of trucking companies that do that they will take you in and teach you what you need to know get your CDL all your endorsements then you’re tied into them with a minimum of them what I understand is a year. Bottom line is if you’re an honest and respectable company and treat your Associates right and don’t play favorites you won’t have to worry about charging anybody for the training because they’ll stay if they know they’re going to be treated right

  31. No we shouldn’t lack of appreciation and lack of leadership is the reason this is happening…maybe if these companies would show there appreciation doughnuts sometimes raises every six months would be nice, and teaching leaders how too lead.

  32. No we shouldn’t have to pay for quitting our jobs. What I found in corporations and non corporations is the training is taught very poorly. In addition, we are so severely under trained. Example, my training was supposed to be 6 weeks yet it was 2 weeks. I did manage to tough it out and I have managed to go up the chain to other positions. In all due respect the question should be revised on how can we keep long term employees here? Often time there are clicks that are formed which in return makes people feel uncomfortable causing them to look for employment elsewhere. Employers say they want to hear feedback from workers yet if it’s not the right kind of feedback then you maybe shoved out the door. Employers also want to rush employees to do a job less than 5 minutes yet depending on what type of issue you have it could take longer to resolve the problem at hand. This is just a bit of what I have seen and witnessed.

  33. Yeah no… not unless you are prepared to consider reimbursing lost wages for trainees you hire if you chose to fire them or lay them off for any reason other than explicit disobedience of company policies or procedures… or if you switch jobs on the employee etc… if we can have money withheld for training if we quit then you owe money to employees you decide to fire, Lay off or decrease hours on… period…

  34. NO WAY who paying employees when they are let go in at will states

  35. At least 27 States are employment at will. So unless a company changes that you can quit at any time or be terminated. So no employee should be penalized for quitting for any reason…that’s what you agree to when you’re hired by a company.

  36. no they can close there door without informing anyone a two week notice is good enough

  37. I had one employer who put a cute clause in the employee manual (which hadn’t even been written at the time the first employees were hired, because it was a startup company).

    It said that any employee who did not give two-weeks notice prior to separation from the company would not be paid for their accrued vacation. The owner later fired somebody and refused to pay the accrued vacation, saying the employee hadn’t given two-weeks notice. Then he cackled and related how he told them, “sue me if you don’t like it.”

    • Folks: Please pay attention to this. I talk myself blue in the face cautioning job candidates to get a copy of the employee policy manual before you accept a job. It’s will rule your life at work and, no, it’s not just “standard boilerplate.” It could cost you BIG. Thanks for the reminder, Bill!

  38. Thanks for the walk down memory lane! It’s been a minute since my generation has been the target of blame for job hopping and all the associated costs these poor companies must incur for our frivolity. (muwahaha >;) But in all seriousness, with 20 years in the corporate world, the contempt this HR person shows is more the norm than the exception, unfortunately. It cuts across all generations to anyone who would dare show human tendencies like needing training for the proprietary systems or sales process the organization runs, expressing a desire to be treated like an adult as opposed to some infantalized persona, etc. Yes, HR and senior execs, you’re stuck with having to hire, compensate and retain imperfect, inconvenient humans until you can get those autonomous robots and algorithms up to snuff! This foolish obsession with saving money on training and safety has had many case studies in catastrophic consequences but just you try and find someone in the C suite who has learned or reformed from such a mentality. Just look at Boeing. Planes literally falling from the sky from reportedly flawed design, shoddy software, and non-existent pilot training but the stock just keeps getting propped up and so all is well in facade-land.

    • @EM: In most companies, the board of directors has no idea what impacts the HR department is having on the business. Big mistake. Do you think Boeing’s board demanded an outcomes analysis of HR policies on 737s? Doubt it. It’s always THE PEOPLE, STUPID!

      • Nick,

        In a more recent ATH column, a poster pointed out that he used contractors rather than FTEs because it was such a headache going through HR. I suspect you’ve read that much, if not all, of the code that’s caused Boeing’s 737 Max problem was written by overseas contractors. If Boeing’s managers had similar problems dealing with HR… [smh]

  39. One of the issues with “Training” is that the training is usually only about company procedures and on topics specific to the company. Most training, in my experience, is not based on technical skills that are portable to other jobs, particularly in the onboarding time-frame, which the question seems to suggest.

    The other issue with training is, also in my own experience, that training is so watered down. Most of the training opportunities in my organization are video based, like watching You-tube videos produced by an HR guru. They don’t really delve into the depth of most topics, and they’re mostly about soft skills and non-technical topics. None of them even have any test of competency or any certificates of completion so they’re less useful than say a Udemy course.

  40. Psychopathic boss(es) reporting to a flock of ostriches (you know the expression, “head(s) in the sand”) — say no more.

  41. The writer to Nick wants the upside profit which the employee brings to the company, but not the downside risk to the company – or more likely the hit to his department’s budget. The writer is thinking like a bureaucrat, NOT an entrepreneur or a leader. If I’m ever asked to agree to pay some fee/fine for leaving, I’ll want some of the upside also. By upside I’m NOT talking about a paycheck – I’m talking about stock in company.

  42. No. The only thing you can do is deny their request for unemployment.

  43. Indentured servitude has been illegal in America since when, the 18th century, wasn’t it? I’ve been with my turd factory job for 7 years. The place is spinning around the drain. I finally received a modest pay raise at year 6, but the caveat was (their consultant they hired, a former manager at a competitor’s we had both been let go from after a buyout/down- sizing)insisted I sign a two year non-compete in order to get the raise. This quid-pro-quo of signing contracts by employers to get a (often low-level) job, get any type of merit increase, receive training, etc. is just another example of how dirty and unethical many employers are today. The attitude and tone of this HR person’s letter is enough to make the hairs rise on my neck. I’m no advocate of government laws and intrusions, but I really believe the employment laws need to stop favoring the employers so much.

    • @Antonio: The example you gave is indeed a nasty practice: withholding a raise (they cannot withhold pay) unless you do X. This is a very good reason to find a better employer. I once worked for a company that had no Non-Compete Agreement (NCA). After the company was acquired by another, HR sent around a memo telling us we all had to sign an NCA. Since there were no conditions on it, I declined to sign. Everyone else did. I just kept ignoring the e-mails. They finally stopped. I never signed. Of course, since I worked in an at-will state, they could have fired me in exasperation without ever telling me that was the reason! Sometimes a company’s ineptitude pays off for the employee. I finally quit when I was ready.

  44. Sounds like PHR lacks perspective. The thousands wasted by an employer the size of a hospital on a single trainee could be small potatoes relative to the resources a job seeker might have spent over the years just hunting for decent work. Never mind what wouldn’t have been lost had the Recession not happened.

    Nick suggests that “Of course, you should not hire anyone that you suspect plans on quitting after training is done. (I don’t think many job seekers play that game. More likely, some other factor is making them move on.)” I don’t fully agree with that, but I’d say that’s more of a reflex or a survival technique than a “game”. Just because unemployment is low doesn’t mean everyone’s working in the job they really want, and a decade of pervasive bad-faith employers has taught many job hunters to, quite frankly, do unto others as they have done unto you. If I were to detail all laughable jobs and job offers (“2 hours per pay period, guaranteed!”), or all the abysmal treatments of workers I’ve seen in the last decade, I’d need a blog of my own!

    The years of workers being treated as disposable, easily replaceable commodities has gone Newtonian on the business community, as in “For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction” and led to the disposable job, as PHR is now witnessing. I submit that even with low unemployment, there are a lot of folks who aren’t yet working in the job they want to stay in. Training is only one expense with a new hire. The much larger challenge is proving that you want to INVEST in them long-term. No one in their right mind should sign this proposed employment contract without something of equal potential value to them! A company out to punish bad-faith behavior without first exploring the question of WHY so many people aren’t staying in the first place probably has the answer staring them right in the face.

    • Unemployment is not low. It’s high, but the media is telling you otherwise.

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