Creating a strategic education benefit that works for your employees and your business

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Here’s what we know

For years, organizations have established tuition reimbursement benefits to attract potential new hires, but generally put them on the shelf and forgot they existed. Traditionally these policies were designed to meet a $5,250 per person, per year allowable tax benefit deduction and covered only post-secondary education expenses.

The benefit was used to show stakeholders and industry competition that the company was a good corporate citizen, even using the benefit in campaigns to get onto “Top 100” lists, but the desire for actual employee utilization is very low and often deterred. Still, other organizations have turned their back on an education benefit all together, thinking investing anything in individuals that turn over at such a high rate is a waste if they never show up for a second shift.

Most companies who have adopted this approach have seen low benefit participation rates, and worse, fail to articulate the value of such benefit to senior leadership. With the right toolkit leveraging insightful questions, organizations can shift their thinking on education assistance as a powerful tool in attracting, developing, training and retaining employees.

Here’s what we found

Both scenarios above are missing several key components such as: strategy and unification of cross-business stakeholders to drive a meaningful discussion related to talent management; design thinking around educational programs and solutions that can impact job and career development; the right technology and support to capture data analytics related to performance and business impact of these benefits; and ultimately, widening the lens of who your workforce is.

We’ve met many companies who keep similar philosophies; not because they’re meaning to, but because they don’t understand the underlying strategy or cost to the organization. These lackluster views about talent development aren’t keeping up with the pace of change, in an economy where nontraditional competitors are now attracting your talent and, where employee resignation or quits have risen steadily by the millions since 2010 due to lack of development opportunities.

Total employee quits per year

Total employee quits per year. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Here’s why we did it

Leveraging our collective years of experience in working with employers to design, develop, deliver and manage learning and education programs for companies, we partnered with Jaime Fall and UpSkill America as a way for us to share our insights broadly with the marketplace. UpSkill America, in partnership with the Walmart Foundation, has built a toolkit for organizations to use in designing sustainable upskilling strategies and solutions.

We encourage you to download the “Tuition Assistance Policy Discussion: Roadmap to a Skilled and Educated Workforce”.

This tool is the latest in a series released by UpSkill America in the past year to equip businesses with the tools to educate, train, and support frontline workers’ development to advance their careers. The work builds on UpSkill America’s 2017 UpSkilling Playbook for Employers.