Investing in your Employee’s Education: Is it for your Company?

Employees are widely considered an incredibly valuable asset to a company. Typically, “good” companies attract “good” employees.

Regardless of your definition of “good”, valuable benefits are considered a very attractive incentive for high quality workers. These benefits can include a variety of things, starting with basics such as healthcare and move all the way to holiday bonus checks. While these benefits help to make life easier for your employees, which will help to improve their overall performance, there is one aspect of benefits that has been widely overlooked in the business world: education.

Studying in a business class

Education: Investing in your employees

Today, many companies are providing some sort of compensation or reimbursement on tuition fees for employees who wish to attain a higher degree as an investment in the future of their employees. The expectation of the company is that once the employee has completed their degree, they will perform better, increasing profits and reducing costs.

The company does not expect that they are investing in the value of learning for the individual, but rather they believe they are investing in the lifetime value of the employee. This doesn’t always happen, of course. The employee can always decide that they would like to work for another company after completing their degree, which could essentially be seen as a wasted investment from the company’s point of view. However, this should not be a main concern for the company. Instead, they can keep the piece of mind back to the earlier phrase in this article: “Typically, “good” companies attract “good” employees.”

By providing opportunities for their employees at all levels of the chain of command, they are creating an environment that grows from within, and does not need to constantly be replacing valued employees and starting over. In many respects, your employees will feel just about as invested in your company as you are in them.

There are many considerations to take into account before implementing a tuition reimbursement program, however. It does not fit for all companies. You may be aware that Starbucks will pay for the full cost of an online degree for employees in an effort to attract and retain employees in the competitive U.S. labor market. This may seem to be an unlikely move for a company in an industry that would typically have a high turnover rate. However, they have already seen great interest, as 2,000 employees have enrolled in the program. While this story may turn out to be a success for Starbucks, it was absolutely a calculated move by the company that they believe will offer a valuable return.

A big part of many company’s concept for tuition reimbursement would be to offer this only to employees that are working full time or at least part time during their studies. This requires you to offer very flexible coverage. Maybe you choose to offer employees reduced tuition at a local on-campus program. This may be a challenge, however, as they would then need to travel to classes.

A good option would be to give your employees the choice of whether they want to purse an on-campus degree or perhaps a more convenient online degree. There are many options to choose from on an international scale such as Wb-University, where students can study on their time from their home or even perhaps during special office hours.

Continuing education for employees

Are you considering offering your employees the same option? If so, you should keep some of these pertinent factors in mind:

How will you decide on coverage?

Not all degrees attained by employees will provide a valuable end result for your company. If you are specializing in furniture sales, a degree in urban planning will do little to increase performance of employees. The intended degree of the employee should be relevant, either directly, or indirectly to your company model.

How much should you cover?

This number will be very different from company to company. Some may choose to offer a percentage, while others will offer a flat rate. If you are considering international degree coverage, this will also be dependent on tuition costs of the country in question.

Should you restrict your employees?

Will you create stipulations such as the employee needs to work for your company for x number of years after they complete their degree or will you allow them to move where they would like? There are benefits and drawbacks to both options.

You don’t want employees to feel as though they are in a corporate prison, but at the same time it would be extremely costly to a company to spend money on tuition for employees who leave after they have completed their degree. With this point always refer to the earlier point: good companies attract good employees. If you are doing your part in aspects of corporate responsibility, especially in regards to your employees, you will attract good workers.

What value does your company place on a degree?

A bachelor degree is a requirement for many companies to just get in the door. How much will they add to your company with a Master or Doctorate degree? Will it be worth it for your company to invest in the education of your employees?

The concept of reimbursement for tuition of employee’s education is unique to each company, and should be always decided among the important decision makers of the company. Perhaps you would even want to encourage employees to give feedback of their interest in pursuing a higher degree if it was offered. What are your personal opinions? Is this something that your company may find value in?