Educational Assistance will improve Employer BrandHome Depot provides it to their stores’ sales associates; Starbucks provides it to their baristas; UPS provides it to their part-time workers.  What is “it”?  It is educational assistance.  Tuition (or educational) assistance or tuition reimbursement programs enable employees to continue developing their knowledge and skills while working; it is a plus for employers as well.  In most cases, employers either cap the amount of tuition assistance available, or they set a limit in terms of dollars spent or number of qualifying classes per year.  Some employers require their workers to pay the fees, etc. up front and then reimburse once a certain grade has been achieved (hence the name “tuition reimbursement”).

Making this benefit available to your employee pool can be extremely attractive recruiting tool, as many recognize it for what it is….a chance to earn a degree and/or certification at a greatly reduced cost.

4 good reasons to jump onboard:

  • Good recruiting tool – highly sought after employees look to constantly improve their skills.  They are ambitious, and most believe in the idea of continuous education.  When they know your company will offset the costs of that education, then you are providing real value to them.
  • Shows you value your employees – every company should work towards a strong employer brand – it is what makes people want to work for you.   An educational assistance program is a powerful tool you can use to strengthen your employer brand.  It tells potential employees you are willing to invest in their professional growth, and that you consider them to be valuable.
  • Promotes advancement within your company – employees with more skillsets and higher levels of education typically earn more and rise further in their company’s hierarchy.  Providing the path to more skillsets and advanced degrees, indicates that there are real opportunities for a new hire to grow within your company.  Companies, who provide growth opportunities for their workers, generally have much lower turnover rates than companies who hire primarily from the outside.
  • Increases morale, engagement and productivity – employees who have the ability to advance up the company ladder are generally happier and more content.  They feel they have a future and do not feel that they have to look elsewhere.

But, but, but…you say…

Many companies shy away from offering educational assistance, believing employees will “take their degree and run”.   The concern is that these newly educated employees will earn their certificate and/or degree and quickly resign for greener pastures.  Yes, there are some workers that will do that, but there are those who will quit without proper notice or simply not show up one day.  However, when you agree to pay for your employees’ education/certificate, you are making an investment in them.  The degree/certification should help them perform better in some capacity.  Improvement does not come without investment; that is true for everything in life, including employee development.

If you provide real growth opportunities for employees at all levels and provide them with the development framework to take advantage of those opportunities, then your employees will be much less likely to leave.

Remember, a company is only as good as its employees.  The better the employees, the better the company, the better the job candidates.

By David Allen,

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.