The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Victims Of Employment …
September 8, 2010, 6:17 am
Filed under: Comment

So I am hearing more and more of companies who are basically charging their staff to train them.

OK, so they’re not hitting them with an upfront bill – but they are saying that when they’ve been trained, if they leave within a designated period of time [normally a year] they have to pay the cost of the training back to the company.

Is it any wonder so many employees have no respect for their company when they pull shit like that?

OK – with my corporate hat on – I can sort-of understand if the company has sent someone to a special course that has cost them a considerable amount of cash but I’m hearing there’s companies trying to pull this stunt even when they are sending their staff off to do some small internal training course.

I remember when I was at JWT for about 2 weeks back in the dark ages, I was told they had decided to give me a payrise but rather than give me cash [which I deserved and needed because I was paid a fucking pittance] they were going to give it to me as a training course.

A training course they were going to run.

In the office.



Training is an important part of any job.


Mainly because it does not just benefit the employee – it also benefits the company which is why for this reason, I believe it should not come with any strings attached – especially if the company is running the training themselves.

Oh, and if management have decided to run their 2-bit course in another country, then that’s their problem … there’s no way that should financially impact their employees, especially when they’ve had no choice in the matter.

It’s bad enough more and more companies are exploiting the financial times to make their staff work longer and longer hours without additional benefits [sorry, but a pizza and taxi home don’t count] … and it’s positively criminal more and more companies are trying to stop staff taking their legal-right holidays … but to now try and charge staff for training – internal training – is sick, especially when they have a bland mission statement that spouts their ‘staff are their greatest asset’.

Of course having a job is a great thing, but too many companies act/think like they’re a charity when the reality is without their employees, they’re literally nothing.

55 Comments so far
Leave a comment

when i think of the money i lavished/wasted on making our guys development and enfuckingjoyment i feel physically fucking sick. they were working for me for fucks sake, how much development and enfuckingjoyment can one bastard take?

ill let you into a little fucking secret campbell, i never called it training i justified the investment by saying it was danger money for them having to work with planners. or be planners.

and in a demonstration of my selfless fucking mangement style, i never took a penny of the training budget for myself even though i had it worse than all of those bastards put together by being in business with 2 of the fuckers.

thats you and auntie if youre too thick to work that put campbell.

and this is why i back whats making you froth at the mouth with this post because if our little fuckwit company could spend so much time and cash on our guys regular development then id like bigger, richer and more fucking professional companies to suffer the same pain. i do not deserve to be the only one who saw his cash dwindle because his partners thought developing their people was important.

why the fuck did i go into business with a couple of hippyfucks? why didnt sorrell call me. now theres a man who wont let his staff get in the way of his profit and pay.

Comment by andy@cynic

Spending your money was the main incentive to do training Andy. Our lovely guys profited from our desire to piss you off, ha!

You don’t read that in the management books do you!

Comment by Rob

you do in satans fucking management manual. bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

We are forever in your debt Andy but you know that because you still tell us when whenever you see us.

Even though I was with you guys a relatively short time I was shocked at how much you focused on training and expose us to new opinions and perspectives, it was a lot more than I experienced at my other companies who were all operating off a larger financial footing.

But it was a wise investment because it improved standards and morale so I’m amazed companies think their new training policy is a good idea because even if people agree to the blackmail terms, I’m sure it’s more likely to end up making them have distain for their employer than if they’d been given no training at all.

Great post again Robert, you need to start an advertising union especially now you’re just a lowly employee. 🙂

Comment by Pete

a lowly fucking employee? campbell? in that case he the best paid most fucking bossy lowly employee in the fucking world.

lowly employee? stop talking shite pete.

and i only remind you about how generous we (me) were for your own good. wouldnt want you getting big heads and thinking you had some natural fucking talent.

Comment by andy@cynic

This post is giving me far more satisfaction than I ever thought possible, ha!

Comment by Rob

I’d be interested to know what kind of training you think is worthwhile for employees?

Conferences tend to be a giant waste of time and usually offer very little if a welcomed chance to get out of the office. Even the ones with interesting speakers aren’t the best way to learn. I’ve attended a couple of VCU’s executive training classes because of our relationship with them and what’s interesting there is that they add a workshop/homework/presentations aspect that helps you apply what you’ve just learnt, so I guess that’s an option.

I know you’ve mentioned acting classes as nontraditional training of ad people before, and I am sure you’ve got plenty more, so what else you’ve got? 😀

Comment by rafik

campbells methodfuckingology was if it was weird, cost me lots of money and let him meet his interesting freak role models hed call it training.

hell have a different opinion but dont listen to his shite.

Comment by andy@cynic

Training that involves physically making something and giving back to the community is increasingly popular. Something like house renovation for example. But Im sure you’re aware of that.

Comment by John

thats not training thats bonding. we did that sort of shit too but didnt try and con our guys into thinking they were getting help in addressing their individual fucking needs.

Comment by andy@cynic

Good point Andy. The way some companies post rationalise their activities as ‘training’ makes me think planners still have a huge amount to learn.

Comment by Rob

And you’re description of my training philosophy is scarily accurate … and there I was thinking you hadn’t quite grasped how well I was using you and the guys to fulfill my own curiosity.

Comment by Rob

youre selling planning short. companies arent that good at justifying shit quite yet campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Did it involve hookers? At least half of his wheezes do

Comment by northern

Actually it did. Bugger, I’m that transparent.

Comment by Rob

I think I can answer that Rafik. 

The guys had 2 groups of training of which there were 2 subsets in each group. 

In simple terms there was a group of training dedicated to the companies advancement as well as a group focused on the staff. 

Everyone had private and professional goals that were evaluated half yearly. All these goals were individually tailored so the range of methods to address them were vast. 

I personally had to manage a school football team because they rightly felt I didn’t speak up enough to drive my opinions home. They also sent me off to spend time with experts from other fields as I wanted to increase my breadth of knowledge and methodologies. 

I should point out everyone had to do this, even the big 3 and while we attended conferences, that wasn’t regarded as training it was regarded as going to a conference for the reasons you detail in your comment.  

The guys often said cynic was their social experiment but the experience, education and joy it gave me means I would classify it more as social work in the most positive sense of the term. 

Robert can be more specific but it was good and plentiful which is how it should be.

Comment by Pete

didnt work did it. didnt your team finish 2nd from fucking bottom in the league.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s because you made sure I was in charge of the most unathletic group of kids in America. Getting them to finish above bottom is testimony to my abilities.

Comment by Pete

A good workman never blames his tools Pete – but where you’re concerned, you get special dispensation because without doubt, you were given some useless tools, ha!

Comment by Rob

Thanks for this Pete. Nice to see and understand the methodology behind the perceived mayhem.

Comment by rafik

I think Pete has pretty much captured the training principals and methodologies we adopted – which, if truth be told, were the same principals and training methodologies I experienced at HHCL.

Whilst there are training elements that everyone can benefit from [exposure to different opinions etc] we thought it was our duty to also advance the talent of the people who [stupidly] put their faith in us based on the premise that [1] if they went on to bigger and better things they wouldn’t look at us as a bunch of useless bastards and [2] they might give us a job one day when we’re even older and more out of touch.

Always looking towards the future … ha!

In all seriousness, I am a big believer in group and individual training – and whilst conferences can help, that’s more about expansion of the mind than targeting specific elements that are either [a] stopping a persons growth or [b] opening doors to greater growth.

I’m in the process of doing the individual/group goals for my lovely bunch at W+K and I can tell you that there’s been some raised eyebrows, raised voices and – hopefully – raised ambitions.

We’ll see in 6 months I guess …

Comment by Rob

That sounds fantastic, Pete.

Nice work Cynic boys.

I tried for 3 years for McCann (MASSIVE GLOBAL FUCKING NETWORK!!) to send me to two training courses… one in presenting/public speaking and one in “influencing”. I got neither. Instead I just bit my tounge and tried to hone these two skills through my work and personal day-to-day.

Still pisses me off.

Comment by Age

The sad thing is many companies view training as an expense which immediately increases the odds they’ll approach everything with the goal to do the least amount possible, not the most.

Training doesn’t have to be formal away days or conferences – it can simply be a bit of uninterrupted time with someone who is experienced in a particular field – but sadly companies need everything to be so quantified, that just spending an hour a week chatting is viewed as unproductive when for the people who get to take part, it can be very beneficial indeed.

Comment by Rob

Yep, i’d also argue that some look upon it not only as an expense, but also a risk that the trained person will get better and then demand more money or leave altogether. It’s just control.

Comment by Age

HHCL. Gave me a pay rise I didn’t ask for in 3 months. Best agency ever.

Comment by Charles

Yes they were Charles, especially because – from my point of view – they were also the most visionary in making choices & decisions that kept them at the forefront of society and commerce relevance.

Comment by Rob

I’ve forwarded this to a friend who is going through this exact situation with their company. They feel conflicted because they want the training but not the conditions and it’s now brought up issues with the company they didn’t know they had.

As the lab rat for many of the guys training experiments, there were definitely times where I thought they were being sick but looking back, I can say most of the things they made me endure were for my immediate and long term benefit so I will always regard it as a special and progressive time despite my lawyers advice.

Comment by Bazza

So you’re dropping the case?

[See, we told you that you’d thank us one day. Ha]

Comment by Rob

It’s on hold rather than dropped.

Comment by Bazza

Apple has taught you the power of legal intimidation well.

Comment by Rob

Bazza, could we have a chat about something?

Comment by The Kaiser

I’ll talk to him Marcus or you can e me and I’ll call him and talk more specifically.

Comment by Rob

Don’t get me started on training courses. A little known independent northern agency paid for me to go on all manner of useful stuff, get trained by Russell, Merry Baskin and George Bryant – not to mention do the APG Network thing
Nothing apart from an internal ‘creative’ training day, which bascially comprised of ‘Disruption and Media Arts or else’ and another where Jane Clancy talked down to us about, you guessed it, Media Arts, which was not ‘The Five Conversations’ which wasn’t taking the place of Disruption Days.

Comment by northern

God I hope you become a headhunter one day …

Comment by Rob


Comment by northern


“Hello Mr Northern Headhunter, I am an aspiring planner and think TBWA Manchester would be a great place as they have a philosophy called disruption that I think is amazing and they do ads for Apple. What do you think?”


________________________________ [go on, fill in the blank]

Comment by Rob

I wouldn’t be messing with NP if I were you Rob. He’s a bundle of carbs and anger.

Comment by The Kaiser

Isn’t that exactly why I should be messing with him?

Comment by Rob

I wouldn’t mess with me either. I’m so unbalanced I’ve just pledged to swim 6K in two hours.
Anyway, your basic premise is that when I get fired for Youporn and the doors of planning swing shut with, finality of gates closing behind Lucifer for the last time, the only course left to me is to stop others making the same mistakes I made? Is that what you’re saying?
Are are you simply suggesting that the hypothetical job in question would provide much amusement as I tell The Future how it really is?
Either way, the problem with most recruitment people is they haven’t a clue what jobs the people they’re trying to place actually do, or what the places are like either. They certainly never get close to explaining the culture.

Anyway, everybody watch it. I’m lethally charged.

6K I tell you, 6K!

Comment by northern

What did you learn from Russell, Merry and George?

Comment by John

Ask three planners the same question you’ll get 5 answers

Comment by northern

Respectively –
1 Surrender your ego, work at least as hard on the briefing as the brief
2 Workshops work best with strong guidance, not democracy
3 Fads come and go, but what has always mattered is earning attention…don’t make ads, make stuff people want to be involved

Comment by northern

Thanks, that saves me a lot of expensive courses and means when or if I see any of them I can ask about respectively

1) Other stuff
2) If anyone else is called Merry
3) How he kept the ship on an even keel

Comment by John

Jesus – all I did was try and provoke another of your now famous rants and I get a [completely accurate] overview on the failures of most recruitment agencies and their staff.

And 6k?

You’re going to swim 6000 miles and in only 2 hours.

You are a machine. A machine from the future. That doesn’t rust.
[So you’re not made by Fiat then!]

And for what it’s worth, I have total faith in your 2 hour/6000 mile swimming and even if you didn’t do it, the fact you had a go is bloody impressive to me – but then you had me with your blog recipies.

Comment by Rob

You know perfectly well I mean 6 kilometers

Comment by northern

Way to make me feel like an immature tit. Or even more of one.

Comment by Rob

You didn’t listen to me did you? You never do. Nobody ever does.

Comment by The Kaiser

Stop being Mr Dramatic Dad … and I’ve just emailed you.

BTW, have you read Peggy’s toptastic comment? Between you, NP, Charles and her – I reckon I’m the biggest fraud in blogs and adland. Well after the FCB CEO. Ha.

Comment by Rob

I’ve replied. And yes I have read peggy’s comment. It’s excellent.

We’re just here to keep you on track. You forgot to mention Boucher, which will piss him off, but please Billy no end.

Comment by The Kaiser

you think anything campbell could do could piss me off? whats happened to you brown, you gone soft?

wait till the chinese government read this post. they wont know whether to celebrate your communist fucking uprising or crush your people revolt. i would hope they go for the full fucking on violence option but you can never tell with these foreign types.

now call me back you slack shit or are you enjoying mr commies prison hospitality?

Comment by andy@cynic

i would like to point out that campbell still hasnt called me back. fucker.

Comment by andy@cynic

What would you recommend to employees who are being asked to be tied down for training.

A year contract at costs of 4-5 digits, sounds similar to human trafficking deals.

Refusing training offers would look like they dont have loyalty to the company, at a the same time most people never know what could come up in a year professionally and personally.

Comment by J

You’ll find my view here J:

Comment by Rob

Thats the post above. I came on here to send it to someone who is being asked to sign their life away.

Was curious to know if you have a recommendation, a plan of action for employees under companies that are doing what you mentioned.

It seems they are taking it a step further, sending people to training (not caring about the training) just to have a way of entrapping the employee with a large sum.

Comment by J

God how stupid am I – so sorry, you can tell I was half asleep when I responded last time.

I personally would not sign if a company told me that was the only way I was going to be doing a training course unless …

1/ It was training not from – or managed – by the company.

2/ It genuinely had commercial cost and value to it.

3/ It lasted weeks/months rather than 2 days in the boardroom of the office.

But that’s just me … though I do feel companies that use this methodology for the reasons you state are absolute bastards.

Comment by Rob

Leave a Reply