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Filling the Tuition Assistance Gap

Posted by Brian Sorenson on September 30, 2016

Topics: Workforce Development, Employee Retention, Employee Incentives, Tuition Reimbursement

Going the extra mile toward educating employees pays off for both employee and organization. An employee who is given access to an education is likely to be more motivated, engaged and productive. In turn, organizations benefit by an increased likelihood that those employees will remain within the organization and can be nurtured and groomed to take on positions of increased responsibility down the road. Encouraged by the right incentives, tuition assistance can be a tremendous benefit for employees.

This is why it’s all the more important for organizations to properly articulate the value of tuition assistance benefits, both as a personal and professional development tool. Unfortunately, according to a recent workforce success study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, only 18 percent of men responded that tuition assistance was the job benefit they valued most, contrasted with 27 percent of women who said the same. In keeping with these findings, a recent study by the Lumina Foundation also found a gender gap in the rate of taking advantage of an organization’s tuition benefits.

The difference between how men and women responded on the subject of tuition assistance represented one of the largest gender disparities on benefit preferences. If we agree that it’s important to have an educated workforce—and, for the sake of building a stronger nation and driving our economy, we should—then it’s crucial for organizations to ensure that all employees recognize how tuition assistance can impact their career mobility and the organization at large.

Here are some ways you might communicate the advantages of your organization’s tuition assistance program to ensure everyone can appreciate the value of this benefit:

  • When job opportunities are posted/become available, give employees visibility into the education requirements needed for the position as well as the earning potential.
  • Acknowledge when employees receive a degree in your organization’s newsletter, email updates or by taking advantage of other collateral. This can make other employees aware of your tuition assistance program and entice them to take part.
  • As jobs become increasingly complex, it’s essential that employees are kept up-to-date on evolving technologies, methods and best practices. Your organization can demonstrate how an education can help employees maintain a competitive edge in the face of these changes.
  • Make sure managers are up-to-speed on your tuition assistance program and talk to their teams about it regularly.
  • Promote the tuition assistance program in break rooms, elevators, on the company intranet and on digital screens.

Sixty-one percent of organizations offer a tuition assistance program, a benefit which can help employees meet the needs of our evolving workforce. To ensure the success of these programs—and, indeed, the success of these organizations—it’s essential that employees are aware of the existence of tuition assistance and the many ways the program can benefit them.