Most people have experienced a job change, but have you ever been charged for your training after quitting? A growing number of businesses are implementing this policy. For a closer look into this phenomenon, we surveyed 476 employees who were required to pay for training and 535 managers about their opinions on charging employees for training.

Is this practice a fair way to stop employees from job hopping, or is it an unreasonable expectation for workers to pay for training that might not have been worth it to them? Let's find out what people on both sides of the workforce think the costs and benefits are.

Is It Worth It?

As you might expect, employee opinions differed on whether their work training was helpful. First, we'll see how much they paid and if it was worth the cost.

Was your training worth the cost?

Job training isn't cheap; the employees we surveyed paid an average of $516 for theirs. Luckily, most thought the training was worth the cost, as only 10% said it wasn't. That's surprising, considering that some of the subject matter was job-specific; schedule expectations (43%), policies and procedures (42%), and HR information (32%) all vary between companies.

But we also found that white-collar workers paid 21% more for their job training than blue-collar workers. They were also more likely to say it wasn't worth it. Maybe white-collar workers, who are more likely to hold a college degree, begrudge having to pay for training on top of their student loans.

The good news for employers is a training repayment agreement could help keep new hires on the job. Over 75% of employees agreed being required to pay for training if they quit within a year of being hired would increase retention. And 77% said they would be ok with signing a training repayment agreement.

Who's Paying for Training?

Since company policies vary when it comes to making employees pay for their job training, let's see what kinds of requests employers have made during offboarding and how workers might respond to them.

Paying back the cost of training

Most of the employees we surveyed said a company had required them to pay for their training if they quit before a specific date (84%). The average repayment amount was $352 — a significant sum for many, given the currently high cost of living.

There were also differences in how each generation would respond to a training repayment agreement. If they wanted to leave a job after signing one, millennials were most likely to leave and pay the agreed-upon amount, whereas baby boomers were most inclined to quit and refuse to pay. But overall, more than half of our respondents (61%) said they would rather wait until the required date before quitting in order to avoid paying for their training.

What Do Managers Think?

Managers are likely to have a different perspective on requiring employees to pay for their training than regular employees do. Next, we asked them to share their thoughts on the matter.

The manager perspective

Training employees costs businesses a good deal of money. According to the managers surveyed, training each new hire costs an average of $853. So it's understandable that some companies would ask for new employees to help pay for it or require them to pay it back if they quit too quickly.

Managers also shared what they're most likely to do to prevent "quick quitters" (employees who leave jobs after less than a year). They said withholding benefits and paid time off until an initial 90-day employment period has passed would be the most effective ways to retain employees. They thought these actions might also prevent "quiet quitting" (doing just the bare minimum to keep a job) if this probationary period also requires a certain level of performance or work quality before benefits are provided.

Companies have good reason to retain their staff, especially their most highly trained and knowledgeable workers. Managers reported that it takes two years on average for a new employee to be considered "highly trained" and that training only pays off if the employee sticks around long enough. But unfortunately, over 40% of managers reported losing a highly-trained employee in the last year.

Incentives to Stay

More businesses in the U.S. have begun to require employees to pay them back for their training if they leave before their probationary period is over. Many workers would wait until after their first 90 days to quit if they had to reimburse employers for their training costs, but nearly as many would leave their jobs and refuse to pay anything. But since employees who want to quit will find a reason to do so regardless, perhaps it's best to offer incentives rather than threats — especially since many people are struggling against inflation and high living costs.

About Skynova, Inc.

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Skynova surveyed 503 full-time employees (476 of which were required to pay for some or all of their training) and 535 managers and supervisors about their experiences with and opinions on charging employees for training.

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