How Professional Development for Employees Working from Home Keeps Your Company Competitive

March is Women’s History Month in the U.S. In light of the economic impact that the pandemic has had on women, this seemed like a good time to talk about the benefits of supporting the professional development of working mothers while they work from home. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that among two-earner households with children:

mothers provide about 60 percent of childcare. Men perform 7.2 hours of childcare per week versus 10.3 hours for women.

When WFH became the way of life for millions last spring, business owners and managers focused on remote work productivity, culture, and resources (i.e., equipment, software, and cybersecurity infrastructure). Now that WFH is no longer new, it’s time to turn your attention back to employee growth and training.

In 2019, Forbes Human Resources Council shared that when competition for qualified workers is high, employees are 95% open to ‘greener pastures.’ As our economy recovers, facilitating and encouraging leadership, innovation, and superior professionalism among your workforce makes good business sense.


The bottom-line reason employers cannot ignore professional development

Employees that a) want to be great at their job, b) are eager to grow and develop in their role at your company, and c) see the value of continued learning are incredibly valuable.

According to PayScale, professional development is the second most effective means of retaining employees (after merit pay). In the same survey of 38,000 people, 35% of the female respondents are motivated to upskill for higher wages at their current job, compared to 30% of men.

Investing in employees’ professional development continues to be one of the hallmarks of a company with a desirable culture and lower turnover rates.


How can business owners support their employees’ professional development from home?

The first thing that you can do is prioritize employee learning companywide. Communicate with your employees that you want them to succeed at your company. After that, do what you can to adapt to a virtual learning environment by investing in e-learning software and budgeting for employees to continue their education and training outside your organization.

Working from home has additional constraints on moms. Women are maintaining (or exceeding) their job performance while making everyone lunch on their break, acting as a teacher’s assistant, and managing the household without a door to close. It’s a reality employers need to address. Boost capacity according to your company values.

Tax Pointer: Provide information about the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit to your employees.


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Here are three questions that employers revamping their professional development policies should consider.


Does a business owner have to pay for the cost of employee training?

No. A business owner is not required to provide employer-subsidized education or cover the cost of seminars, conferences, or e-learning. However, employers should consider a solid case for how professional education will benefit your business, not interfere with their deadlines, and improve job performance. More women (3.5% of the national monthly turnover rate) leave their jobs than men for a promotion, education, personal reasons, or for another position.

Accounting, along with HR and operations, can provide insight into your company’s ability to attract, retain, and develop its talent. Be aware that the costs of hiring talent versus developing talent can be hurting the overall health of your company.


Do you have to pay employee wages for the time spent on online courses or training?

Yes. Suppose the training is directly related to the employee’s job, is a requirement of employment, and occurs during regular business hours. In that case, virtual learning is considered hours worked.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay for an employee’s time attending a meeting, seminar, lecture, or training unless it meets all four of the following:

  1. the attendance is outside the employee’s regular working hours;
  2. the attendance is, in fact, voluntary;
  3. the meeting, seminar, lecture, or training is not directly related to the employee’s job; and
  4. the employee does not perform productive work while attending the meeting, seminar, lecture, or training.


Does virtual professional development have to occur during “regular” work hours?

Online trainings available “anytime, anywhere” sound convenient but have drawbacks. Effective e-learning depends on several factors like the facilitator’s quality, the reliability of technology, the frequency of training required to be compliant or useful, and your employee’s learning style.

In these exceptional times, it may be smart to change your policy for (high-performing) employees and enable them to engage in virtual CPE after regular work hours. How much can an employee retain with one ear on the training video and the other tuned to what’s happening with their children in the other room? Flexibility in their work schedule is a very attractive and important benefit to the primary childcare provider.


Boosting job satisfaction is good for your employee and your business

This March, as we celebrate women’s invaluable contributions, business leaders have an opportunity to make a huge impact on 48 percent of our nation’s workforce by updating their professional development policies for working moms. Surveys show that women are 2x as likely to leave their job during the pandemic and more than 865,000 women exited the labor force in September 2020 alone.

As Marta Turba, VP of WorldatWork said: “Companies are competing with families for top talent.” Would you want to go up against a cherubic child? I didn’t think so.

Oh, and this happened last month.

Whitney Wolfe Herd

Making history, Whitney Wolfe Herd is the youngest U.S. woman to take a company public while simultaneously becoming a self-made billionaire. Wonder what kind of professional development Whitney Wolfe Herd had throughout her career?


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Quick Note: This article is provided for informational purposes only, and is not legal, financial, accounting, or tax advice. You should consult appropriate professionals for advice on your specific situation. indinero assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.