Arnie Skelton, Managing Director, Effective Training & Development Ltd


Have a look at this diagram:

Working Hours

It represents the 3 sets of relationships we all have with work:

1. Contracted

This is the employment contract - the one we sign up to when we join.

We acquire a set of duties and responsibilities in return for a set pay - and a contracted number of hours. So far, so clear. But it rarely works out like that.

2. Goodwill

Most employees - and this certainly applies to FE, to teachers and support staff - do more than their contracted hours - and do so positively and with good grace.

I call this the goodwill relationship. Both the employee and the employer come to expect and accept these additional hours, and do so in a positive frame of mind.

It’s easy to see what the benefit is for the employer: in effect they get more hours from the employee and thus greater capacity to function and perform. But what’s in it for the employee - why do they work extra hours willingly for no extra pay?

There are a number of reasons. The main one of course, is the employee’s commitment to the role. The more they enjoy it, the less it seems like work. It truly becomes a labour of love. And money isn’t everything. There are other rewards, other paybacks, that compensate what seems on face value like an unfair trade.

These can include certain ‘perks’ that others would have to pay to do - such as attending conferences or carrying out research; or the high quality of the working relationships with colleagues and managers.

Some may have a different relationship to or with pay - what one person may see as meagre, another may consider abundant. And, most compellingly, is the nature of the work itself - a calling or vocation which is so motivational as to be beyond pay (the kind of work some will say they would do for free).

All may produce a natural, freely given commitment to work beyond the contracted hours.

3. Exploited

This exists when the employee, for a number of reasons, works beyond the contracted hours - but does so resentfully. The employee feels exploited - almost compelled to work longer hours for none of the additional benefits described above. On the face of it, the employee must be working beyond their contracted hours voluntarily - otherwise, why do it?  

Of course, there are a number of reasons: foremost is fear.

Many fear that if they don’t meet increasing demands, they will put themselves at risk - being judged as lacking the necessary motivation or skill.

Some resent the impact the additional hours have on the rest of their life - there are only so many hours in the day, so something has to give.

A third factor may be lack of assertiveness: individuals do not have the skills or confidence to speak up. And there is also the view that “someone’s got to do it” - a particular problem for teams with low numbers or scarce specialist expertise.

One thing needs to be made clear: in all the above the employee does not resent the work, they resent those who they hold responsible for placing them in this invidious position.

Working in this way may have three unintended consequences.

  1. The first is that the employer can say it’s down to the employee: whether they work beyond their contracted hours is their call.
  2. Secondly, it sets a performance level which others may then feel compelled to match - or suffer the consequences (as in ‘he’s doing it, so I’d better do it too’). And
  3. Thirdly - because exploited people are still committed to the work - performance doesn’t suffer.

This is the irony of exploitation: the relationship is degraded, not the work.  

To be clear, no one resents the occasional one-off call to work extra hours... it’s doing so persistently, as the norm, that degrades. And if the relationship stays degraded, then people are likely to be unhappy at work, and seek pastures new.

So, what can be done to prevent this happening?

Some of the solutions lie with management, and some with the employee.

Management solutions might include:

  • Being alert to and recognising the cross over from goodwill to exploitation - and preventing it
  • Encouraging staff to speak to them if they feel exploited
  • As part of any PRD, agreeing the boundary between goodwill and exploitation (either at a team or individual level)
  • Finding suitable compensations, acceptable to the employee, to prevent the feeling of exploitation occurring
  • Providing development support, either through coaching or training, to give staff the confidence and competence to speak out
  • Examining at the most senior level, whether there is a culture of exploitation, and one therefore that needs addressing as a leadership issue

Employee solutions might include:

  • Taking personal ownership of accepting a level of work which they then resent. Eleanor Roosevelt said: “no one can make me feel bad without my consent”. Ultimately, we are complicit in our own exploitation; if in essence we choose to accept being exploited, we should at least stop feeling bad about it – or choose not to accept the additional work. Accepting it may be bad enough; feeling resentful just makes it worse. I know this is tough, and easier to say than do – but it is true, nonetheless
  • Raising the issue, and how they feel about it, with their manager
  • Being more prepared to make a stand and say no (knowing that if there are unwanted consequences, then the issue has moved from exploitation to bullying)
  • Seeking personal support and development if the issue is a lack of skill or confidence

As a final thought, consider this formula:

C1 + C2 + C3 + NA = EE

where C1 is Capable; C2 is Conscientious; C3 is Committed; NA is Non-assertive and EE is Exposed to Exploitation.

Arnie Skelton, Managing Director, Effective Training & Development Ltd

Arnie Skelton Newsroom Strap

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page