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Should Workplace Programs be Voluntary or Mandatory? Evidence from a Field Experiment on Mentorship

Jason Sandvik, Richard Saouma, Nathan Seegert and Christopher T. Stanton

No 29148, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: There is substantial variation in whether workplace training and mentorship programs are voluntary or mandatory. When programs are voluntary, many workers do not participate. We conducted a natural field experiment on a mentorship program in a sales call center where in one treatment arm, labeled the Mandatory-Condition, all subjects were either randomly assigned a mentor or not. A second treatment arm, labeled the Voluntary-Condition, required subjects to opt into the program before randomization into receiving a mentor. In the Mandatory-Condition, the mentorship treatment raised workers’ daily revenue by 17% in their first two months of tenure. In the Voluntary-Condition, those who opted out of the program were substantially less productive than those who opted in, and treatment gains conditional on program participation were negligible. Comparing the conditions indicates that treatment effects are largest for workers who are most likely to opt out of participating in the program. We conclude that workplace programs can raise the productivity of lower performing employees but these workers may require inducements or mandates to participate.

JEL-codes: J24 L23 L84 M5 M53 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp, nep-hrm, nep-isf and nep-lma
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