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How to Build a Best-in-Class Education Benefits Program
Join the talent-forward companies offering the education benefits employees want.
By Tim Harnett
Lessons from America’s biggest companies

Education benefits are hot. There are two good reasons for that:

  • There is a shortage of motivated, talented workers — especially in occupations like retail sales, food service, IT, health care and data analytics. Companies seeking these workers are looking for compelling benefits that will attract and keep the people they need.
  • Talented, motivated workers expect education benefits. Millennials rate development as the most important non-cash benefit. Importantly for corporations, people who crave development are those who are motivated to move up.
Best tuition assistance practices for your best-in-class program.
Corporate Learning Solutions at Bellevue University partners with more than 60 companies around the U.S. to create and offer strategic education benefits to their employees. They range from companies with more than 1 million employees to those with fewer than 1,000 workers.

Here are five guidelines to consider if you are building or revising your education benefits program.

1. DON’T BE OVERLY RESTRICTIVE.
Education benefits help employers because they reward talented and motivated employees — exactly the team members you want. It’s important to not be too restrictive with your benefits.

In fact, when you open benefits to all, you will likely be surprised to see who steps up. They may be future leaders who were not on your radar.

2. ASK EMPLOYEES TO INVEST AS WELL.
A lesson learned early was that when the company funds 100 percent of education programs, employees don’t feel fully committed and drop-out rates increase. It’s not easy being a student while working full time and taking care of others in the family. Having just a bit of skin in the game may give employees the extra incentive to hang in there.

3. ENCOURAGE MIDDLE MANAGEMENT SUPPORT.
Middle management is stressful. The last thing middle managers want to hear is that one of their team members wants to go back to school. Even when it’s off the clock, managers still fear a lack of focus on work. However, the opposite is often true. As employees get engaged in the learning, they look for ways to apply their lessons at work.

Middle managers are key to a successful education benefits program. It’s worth hosting an orientation just for them before you roll out your new program.

4. PROMOTE YOUR PROGRAM.
Once you’ve set up your program, let your employees know about it. If you expect it to impact recruitment, let potential recruits know about it. Modern tuition assistance (TA) programs are funded and promoted because talent-forward companies understand that every dollar spent in employee education returns multiple times its value in productivity, retention and engagement.

5. PARTNER WITH A UNIVERSITY THAT UNDERSTANDS ADULT LEARNERS.
Adults balance significant challenges when they undertake education — even when you reduce financial concerns. They should be congratulated and encouraged. Universities with a strong history of working with adult learners understand this and are experts at making services accessible. They know how to handle tuition assistance and other forms of financial aid. And they know how to work with working adult students.

Business man contemplating how to build best-in-class education benefits program.
Simply offering a tuition assistance program — no matter how generous — may not be enough to distinguish your company as a great place to work among talented and motivated employees. A successful, best-in-class program both supports and encourages participation and is strategically aligned with the company’s goals.
Join the nation’s largest and most successful companies by creating your best-in-class tuition assistance program.
Corporate Learning Solutions, powered by Bellevue University, works with companies around the country to assure their tuition assistance programs are strategic, effective and generous.

Solutions include:

  • Incremental funding for qualifying tuition assistance programs.
  • Consultation on tuition assistance programs that meet strategic corporate goals.
  • Career-relevant learning and degree programs that support employee motivations and corporate talent needs.

More information: https://corporatelearning.com/ta-offer-more

The Corporate Learning Solutions division of Bellevue University works with corporations to support the productivity and competitiveness of enterprises by increasing the skills, knowledge and talents of workforces. Corporate Learning Solutions has been working with corporations for more than 25 years and has pioneered a wide range of innovation solutions to human capital development.

These include the Human Capital Lab™, which measures the impact of learning on Key Performance Indicators, custom learning programs that address corporate skills and knowledge gaps, Skill Accelerator™ boot camps and Power Skills™ boot camps, which teach soft skills essential for workforce agility.

Corporate Learning Solutions publishes monthly Workforce Planning Overviews — workforce planning abstracts by key industry and occupation groups. Workforce Planning Overviews are available at https://corporatelearning.com/workforce-overviews/
A nonprofit university, Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org), a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.