the blog of dan pontefract | Docking Employee Pay to Improve Their Skills is Dubious if not Dumb
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Docking Employee Pay to Improve Their Skills is Dubious if not Dumb

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I read with disdain about IBM’s dubious plan to reduce the pay of some of its workers by 10 percent in order for them to improve their skills.

Patrick Thibodeau of Computerworld reported the finding on September 15, 2014. He asked IBM spokeswoman Trink Guarino about the initiative:

“IBM is implementing a skills development program for a small number of U.S. employees. Under this program, these employees will spend one day a week developing skills in key growth areas such as cloud, analytics, mobile and social.”

That’s just about the point at which I went into a silent fit of apoplectic rage.

Here’s my view on the matter.

10An employer has the fiduciary responsibility to employees to provide the learning, development and training required for them to successfully perform in their current role.

Put another way, an employee has the contractual right to the necessary learning, development and training for them to perform per the responsibilities and actions as outlined in their contract of employment or role description. (whichever makes the most sense)

For an employee seeking new responsibilities — and thus a new role or promotion — in the organization, the fiduciary responsibility between the organization and the employee no longer exists. In fact, an employee must earn the right to receive such investment.

Simply put: current role requirements is a company responsibility and next role possibilities is earned. (although when earned, the company is making the investment as well)

It seemed to me in this example that IBM is applying the sharpest of their nails on the chalkboard of stupidity, eliciting shrieking sounds that have sent animals of all makes into fits of confusing bewilderment.

If the company requires these 100 or so employees to ramp up their ‘current role’ skills on such aspects as “cloud, analytics, mobile and social,” perhaps they’ve forgotten it’s actually their responsibility in which to do so. If it’s a requirement for their existing role, it’s IBM’s fiduciary responsibility to the employee to provide such development.

So, it seems they are in fact doing this … however, how does the organization look itself in the mirror of employee engagement and think that docking the pay of these poor 100 employees by 10 percent is also on the menu of a fiduciary responsibility?

It’s appalling.

I’m left speechless, flabbergasted and irate.

My heart goes out to these 100 people, but so too it goes out to the entire organization.

I hope it is reversed for the sake of company-wide employee engagement, not to mention their brand and potential customer backlash.

Docking employee pay to improve their skills is dubious if not dumb.

3Comments

  • Rod Johnson / 26 September 2014 11:52

    I absolutely love this statement:

    “Simply put: current role requirements is a company responsibility and next role possibilities is earned.”

    I think that pretty much sums it up – great article…

  • Karin / 27 September 2014 9:59

    This landed in my ‘reality testing’ no slot at first, bu then here it is posted by Dan. So my reality testing got a little bendy, she said while sitting on an Apple that isn’t bending.

    Given the ‘whole new us’ approach to workplace culture that IBM has been touting in recent years it is amazing that the thought pattern that had to have taken place to come up with a ‘decide what they must learn and make ’em pay for it’ program has me wondering how many pockets of old school IBM still wanders among the halls of IBM.

    • Dan Pontefract / 14 October 2014 2:22

      Thanks to you both. It still is a bit of a “what were they thinking” bit of comedy for me.

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