My boss does not encourage learning new technologies and cares only about deliverables and deadlines. They do not provide any extra learning time, but they do reward when we go and do something better. They say, "if you want to contribute to new things, do your regular work and extend your time in office."

Is it reasonable to ask employees to extend their time in office to learn new things?

  • 4
    How should we know? Can't you learn new things from home? It's your call whether you want to work extra for no pay. If you 're a junior employee, that's what I would recommend to get up to speed, but otherwise, I wouldn't. Some employers are just bad employers. This question is also country and location specific. Aug 25, 2017 at 8:09
  • 2
    Why do you have this expectation that your boss should encourage you to learn new technologies, and that your company should provide you with extra learning time?
    – Masked Man
    Aug 25, 2017 at 8:11
  • @MaskedMan it's good for the company if employees increase their skills and keep pace with technical developments. The company I work for has personal development time and hackathons etc. Aug 25, 2017 at 8:20
  • @MartinSmith Yes, I don't deny that, but the tone of the question makes it sound like OP expects the manager to let him prioritize the "learning" over his regular work. The manager isn't asking him to never learn anything new, but telling him to do it after the regular work is done, which is entirely reasonable in my opinion.
    – Masked Man
    Aug 25, 2017 at 8:23
  • @MaskedMan Thanks for editing the question. Yes, the management has no allocation of budget/ time specific for learning new things. This has to be taken care of the employee and if he/she is willing then he can spare an hour extra to work after his regular hours.
    – Pratik M
    Aug 25, 2017 at 9:40

4 Answers 4


My IT corporation considers learning new things as crucial part of their competitiveness. So out of 8 hours of daily working time, we are expected to work 7 hours on projects and have 1 hour for other activities, especially

  • learning new things
  • preparing for certifications (what is learning things, too)
  • administrative tasks

Employees determine what they want to learn by themselves, but of these things, some are always consulted with the manager and officially recorded as commitment to individual's career development path, which is tracked and evaluated.

We are also encouraged to hold one hour per week as meeting for the whole team (where presence is expected, but not mandatory) on teaching others new things we learned.

So in the summary, 5 out of 40 weekly hours are available and paid for this. If I don't have time to follow this for longer period (project work is going 40 hrs/week), I am raising this with my boss as an alert, because development goals are going to be missed.

You can check with your manager and maybe give them the above as counterexample how some companies in industry do this. It is in company's own interest to provide time for learning.

Your manager's reaction is one of results of the test whether your employer is worth you, because if you imagine staying there and losing the opportunities (when compared to other possible jobs in the industry which you could work at) it can be a deal-breaker. Of course, alternatively you can try a 'partisanship', learning things on your own, gaining advantage against your colleagues who are not. Maybe this can accelerate your career in your current company, maybe not (if they are not valuing these skills enough). Anyhow, sooner or later you will see whether to stay or go.


(In my opinion) To better yourself you will need to learn new things, be it for your current job, or the next. So you will either do that in the office (outside of work hours) or out of the office.

If you can be seen to be putting in the time "in the office" then that may influence next review time. If two people are being put forward for a promotion, and one spends an extra hour every day in the office bettering themselves, then that person is more valuable to the company.


It is unfortunate when your manager is not at all a leader, but it seems like that is the case. Developing competence is a crucial part of high performance deliveries, both in present and future. If employees are not learning, they are gradually becoming worse than the average competitors employees. Bad for motivation, bad for business - Hard to see as a part of a successful strategy working for an "industrialized world" company. (However, if your wage is lower than average world wage, tough luck...)

To your point, it is not reasonable to ask it - but it is certainly reasonable to do it in any case (spend time, possibly your own, on learning new things). To my eye, a boss that doesn't care about competence more than randomly rewarding it is not doing very well at his position...

  • I think it is too harsh to say the manager does not encourage developing competence. He is not telling the OP, "never learn anything not relevant to the job", but just to complete the regular work, which is entirely reasonable IMO. You certainly don't want your team to be constantly learning but not producing any actual business results. Perhaps, the manager should communicate this better to the employees.
    – Masked Man
    Aug 25, 2017 at 8:57
  • @MaskedMan my reading of the question is that the manager budgets zero minutes towards learning things and so means that 100% of it needs to be done on the employees own time. Other companies factor in time for this when bringing in stories comprising "regular work". Short term the velocity may be lower but longer time it can be higher if it results in better informed, more efficient employees. Aug 25, 2017 at 9:03
  • @MaskedMan Well, what a leader is seen to be doing, and prioritizing is always the more powerful signal than whatever comes out of his mouth. I am sure he would say he values competence and values developing it, but his actions are saying "no, that's no big concern of mine" - and it is this signal that is the strongest. Poor leadership, no excuse, period.
    – Stian
    Aug 25, 2017 at 10:39

It's reasonable for an employer to push you to be better without going overboard. Learn as much as you can on the job and consider learning new skills that are relevant to your industry.

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