Time equals money? A randomized controlled field experiment on the effects of four types of training vouchers on training participation

Bram P.I. Fleuren*, Andries De Grip, Ijmert Kant, Fred R.H. Zijlstra

*Corresponding author for this work

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Organizations aiming to help their employees in fostering their human capital offer training, but not all employees participate. Some organizations therefore experiment with training vouchers that typically offer financial means for training to motivate training participation. However, the effectiveness of such vouchers remains suboptimal, arguably due to lack of clarity on- and variation in the mechanisms of such vouchers. The present paper uniquely employs Conservation of Resources theory to compare the effectiveness of four types of vouchers with different combinations of money and time as well as different (i.e. firm internal and external) governance on training participation. To this end, 230 employees in a large Dutch insurance company were randomly assigned to one of the four voucher types or a control group. For eleven months, training participation was monitored and a concurrent questionnaire measured several personal characteristics as potential covariates and moderators. We find that the voucher type that allows employees to freely choose between a training budget and training days most strongly encourages training participation. Vouchers that provide employees with either working days or a training budget did not improve training participation significantly compared to the control group. Moreover, moderation analyses suggested that the training participation of employees provided with non-flexible vouchers appears to depend more strongly on personal characteristics, and particularly components from the Reasoned Action Approach. These findings suggest that to encourage training participation organizations should best offer flexible vouchers that provide employees a free choice between money and working time to spend on training. Moreover, the findings demonstrate the applicability of Conservation of Resource theory to training vouchers and address the need for recognizing subjectivity within this theoretical framework.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103403
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Training voucher
  • Training participation
  • Conservation of Resources
  • Reasoned Action Approach
  • Employability
  • Working time
  • Monetary budget
  • Flexibility
  • WORK


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