If you have kids in your life, you're probably telling them how important education is. It's a good message, but one that many adults forget for ourselves as we get busy with and life. We figure that the education chapter of our lives is over. But we never stop learning, which is why many businesses offer tuition assistance as one of their employee incentives.
Paying to further an employee's education may sound unnecessarily expensive and frivolous. And yes, while it's certainly a perk for a staff member, employers benefit in a big way, too. Here's why.
1. Paying for your employees' education helps build a smarter, more knowledgeable staff.
Many businesses talk about their employees as being assets. Every so often, employers upgrade their assets. They get a faster computer server or remodel the lobby. Education is simply a people upgrade.
“Employees who go back to school to learn more about their industry may return to the office with new ideas and new insights on ways to improve efficiencies within a company and with most companies operating on razor-thin margins, any small change can reap tremendous rewards," says Andrew Selepak. A media professor at the University of Florida, Selepak has seen his share of employees who are juggling work and classes.
Theresa Santoro agrees. Santoro is the director of human resources and operations at Actualize Consulting, a professional services firm specializing in business process engineering and technology implementations for financial institutions. The company is headquartered in Reston, Virginia and has four office locations and 57 full-time employees. One of its employee incentives is $2,000 in annual tuition assistance to employees who want to further their education, which could involve taking classes to get an MBA, receive training at a seminar or perhaps working towards getting certified in a particular field.
“Offering a program that assists with continuing education is a direct investment a company can make in their employee," Santoro says.
2. Paying for tuition as part of your employee incentives can help attract better talent.
“The benefits are twofold—retaining and attracting employees," says Ken Costello, the chief operating officer for MST Solutions, a technology consulting and implementation company that has just over 300 employees through the United States and India.
“Our employees range from architects to recent college grads. We pay for both traditional education and technical training," Costello says. "We will pay for conference attendance, online and in-person training, networking or really any type of training that aligns with the employees' professional development goals."
Making sure the employee education fits in with the company's agenda is a good idea.
“If your company makes widgets, you probably don't want to pay for your employee to go to nursing school," Selepak says.
On the other hand, it depends on what your company's goals are. Maybe you're fine with your employees someday going to nursing school and bragging that they got their start with your company. Some businesses with minimum-wage-paying jobs have high turnover and recognize that is likely to always be the case. They may offer their younger workers bonuses to go toward college, if they work a certain amount of days at the job. In those cases, the employee is expected to move on.
Still, other businesses will make a point to let employees further their education in other ways that don't match up with the company's mission, simply as a way to encourage being well-rounded.
Our operations today are tighter, leaner and more efficient because were able to send someone to the class in real time.
—James Phillip, founder and chairman, JMJ Phillip Executive Search
Whatever your goals are for using tuition as one of your employee incentives, it's an attractive perk.
“Continuing education benefits is not something you see every day, so this added bonus makes your benefits package shine," Santoro says. "It strengthens your recruiting process to be able to offer a training and development program in addition to a benefits package."
After all, employees don't want to feel as if they're taking a job that's a dead end, where they'll learn nothing that will help them in the future, whether at your company or another.
“We offer a $1,000 a year learning credit for conferences and courses, along with tickets to any educational tech or industry events that might be going on throughout the year," says Dawson Whitfield, co-founder and CEO of Looka, a logo-making website based out of Toronto that has 42 employees.
The company was founded in 2016, and the credit started in late 2017.
“When you're expecting employees to grow, develop, and become better at their jobs over time, it only makes sense to invest in that process. If you're not willing to invest in the people you're trusting to make your business better, you're holding your business back," Whitfield says.
3. Investing in your employees can mean investing in your company.
That's how James Phillip, founder and chairman of JMJ Phillip Executive Search, sees it.
“We see it as investing in our people and our companies at the same time," he says.
Phillip says that the company often sends its employees out for training seminars, or ideally, a class from Harvard Extension School.
Generally, Phillip says, they'll send employees who are interested and “thirsty for knowledge" to classes that will help with problems or strategies that the company is currently working on.
“If someone got an MBA five years ago, that book knowledge may not be relevant to issues happening today," Phillip says. “But if we are having a marketing issue right now, and someone takes a class on marketing they can take the issue to the classroom today."
Then the employee can bring what he or she learns in the classroom to the conference room, Phillip adds.
“As a result, our operations today are tighter, leaner, and more efficient because were able to send someone to the class in real time," he says.
So, yes, paying for somebody's education is often an investment in your own company, helping to bring in talent, keep it and improve a company's operations. We often tell kids to stay in school. Maybe the adults should be staying, too.
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