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Love it --- don't pay it forward! And one more time I will say: It's what you do with what you have, not what you have that counts!
Paper's worth nil unless the person can actually demonstrate what they've learned.

The question of who paid for it - and why - strikes me as being quite relevant here.

In the post Griggs vs. Duke Power world, the employee might be signalling something about their ability.

Alternatively, the employer might be signalling something about its commitment to employee growth and development.

I think you are totally missing the point. Yes, if you have no strategy or workforce plan and don’t care about developing your employees why pay for a piece of paper. It is not the piece of paper that counts it’s what you can do with it.

Why not use your posts to add value by talking about ways to support and take advantage of your employee’s self-development, especially if you are paying for it with a tuition reimbursement program. If the company has limited career growth opportunities for its employees they will more than likely lose that employee once they have been developed. Why not maximize their ability to contribute while they are earning their degree with special projects? Why not provide a positive experience so they will want to come back to the company in the future if the opportunity arises?

If you do have career growth opportunities why wait until the employee finishes their degree? Why not give them the development opportunities along the way so they really are ready when they achieve their degree. If you don’t value your employees another company will.

I think you are taking a very narrow non-strategic approach to the topic. You make it sound like employees should be grateful they have a job to begin with.

Trevor, the masthead of the Compensation Cafe states our belief in "caffeinated discussion," which means that there's always room for disagreement. In fact, opposing points of view serve a useful purpose in opening the reader's minds to various aspects of the subject matter. However, I don't think it's helpful to suggest that the author is missing the very point that their article is making. That borders on the personal, doesn't it? As does accusations that the author is taking a very narrow non-strategic approach (a bit harsh, I'm thinking)and should instead use his posts to "add value."

Feel free to disagree with me or any of the CC authors (personally I think your view for this piece is . . . impractical for many organizations), but let's try to avoid the overly negative comments.

As Chuck said, a new piece of paper doesn't automatically confer an entitlement. A degree in basket-weaving adds no value in an engineering consulting firm desperate for PEs, for example, especially if the new graduate still lacks the KSAs critically needed by the firm. Everything is situational.

Hey Chuck,
Sorry if my comment was to “caffeinated”. Your posts seem to be meant to stir the pot and suggest the reader is missing the point. In the case of this article there are many things companies can do to really support the development of their employees the right way and I don’t think any of these options were highlighted. You identified a real issue and I get what you are saying and agree it is not the piece of paper but the applied knowledge that adds value. From my perspective telling the reader not to give more pay or a promotion if there is not a higher expectation of performance or responsibility is a bit simplistic. It does not acknowledge that there could be many reasons that you may want to give that employee an increase or promotion based on workforce planning or other business needs. I would not want an analyst working for me to read this article and then tell a manager they can’t do something before they understand the situation.

The relevance of the degree/certification to the work being performed matters, of course. Assuming relevance, what a degree/certification does is make the employee likely better able to find better work and wages elsewhere, especially if promotional opportunities are not available. An increase or lump-sum payment for the achievement of a new, relevant degree or certification in this view is basically a retention cost.

Unless it is a bogus degree or certification, then there is some value to it no matter if it isn't in the specific area that the is the company's area of expertise. Just the mere fact of planning it out and achieving it shows initiative and follow through and the achievement will add confidence to the employee. Now if the company cannot afford to reward that, they can't, but if they can and don't want to lose a good employee, then something should be figured out IMHO. Also, if there isn't a policy and plan, that employee just alerted you to the need for one and for that alone you should reward them and put them on the special project committee to figure out the policy and plan.

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