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Should Small Businesses Provide Continuing Education Perks to Employees?

Businesses of all sizes can appreciate the benefits of offering continuing education to employees and here's why.


Businesses of all sizes can appreciate the benefits of offering continuing education to employees. The reasons are many, but it basically boils down to this: You can end up with a happy and motivated staff that is deeply invested in your company.

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Employees who receive continued education, at your expense, can bring more to your table — creativity, skills, and money — and are likely to stay with you for the long haul.

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Employees who receive continued education, at your expense, can bring more to your table — creativity, skills, and money — and are likely to stay with you for the long haul. Meanwhile, a Lifelong Education and Labor Market Needs research study “suggests that continuing education increases both employee income and corporate productivity … 96% of employers said continuing education improves job performance and 87% said it has a positive impact on pay scale … The research also showed that education allows employees to manage the skills gap between entry-level and mid-level positions, thus facilitating advancement with 78% of employers factoring continuing education into promotions. Furthermore, companies that support employee education for advancement can mitigate turnover costs associated with outside hires, thereby saving money and increasing efficiency.”

 

Business Benefits of Continuing Education

Employee benefits, aside from health insurance, are considered “icing on the cake” for many job candidates. Paid vacations, sick days, and federal holidays all have their place too — as well as creative job perks like Summer half-day Fridays. It is continuing education, however, that can set your business apart as being progressive.

[pullquote]”Investing in employees’ future is more important than immediate compensation,’ said Eric Rolfe Greenberg, AMA’s director of management studies.” [/pullquote]If you invest in a well-trained workforce, you are better positioned to increase productivity and employee satisfaction. An American Management Association (AMA) “survey of 352 HR executives confirmed that certain enhancement issues were of top importance to employees and improved retention. ‘Investing in employees’ future is more important than immediate compensation,’ said Eric Rolfe Greenberg, AMA’s director of management studies.” Programs that improve work skills and future career development are seen as particularly effective.” (Source: Business Know-How)

Employees who take part in continuing education are likely motivated already and once they receive additional training, this motivation can increase. These same employees will often bring newfound skills directly to their role; saving you time and money recruiting new employees by simply investing in the team you’ve already hired.

 

Continuing Education Highlights: Tuition Reimbursement

The most common type of continuing education benefit offered by employers is a tuition reimbursement program. Forbes contributor Luke Landes suggests, “When the employer agrees to pay for its employees’ education, it is making an investment in those employees. The degree should help the employee ‘perform better in some capacity. In many cases, that would mean either driving more revenue or reducing more expenses.”

Before setting up this type of program, advance planning is required. First, consider what type of education you will reimburse — whether it will be technical, professional, or vocational. For example, many employers require classes be related to the employee’s current or future career path within the company. This should be clearly spelled out beforehand.

Next, determine the exact expenses that will be paid. Will you pay strictly tuition, or will your continuing education program include books, other related fees, or specific types of training (e.g., online education)? Will you pay for the entire course, or part of it? What happens if an employee performs poorly? Some employers develop a sliding reimbursement scale based on performance, paying more money for better results.

Also consider which employees are eligible for tuition reimbursement benefits. Will hourly employees be allowed to participate in the program, or salaried only? What about part-time employees? Make sure these details are worked out before you move forward.

While tuition reimbursement is a common way for companies to provide continued education, there are many creative avenues your company can explore. For example, WebpageFX, (Disclaimer: the writer of this article is employed by the aforementioned company) a full-service online marketing firm, offers an incentive-based continued education program that rewards employees for reading industry books and completing online training courses. The program works on a point system, so the more the employees learn, the more they earn.

 

Stewarding Continuing Education in the Workplace

It’s one thing to pay for classes; it’s another to be truly supportive of employees who are taking advantage of your program. For example, you may need to offer a flexible schedule, or even telecommuting, in order for employees to take part in your program.

Also, don’t forget to spread the word so all eligible employees can take advantage of continuing education perks. Provide details in your employee newsletter or in a company wide email. There’s no point in offering a program if your employees are not aware and don’t take advantage of it.

Remember: a carefully planned continuing education program can result in a more skilled workforce — bringing more to your business and your bottom line. Consider it an investment in your company, not just in a person, and reap the rewards.

 

This article has been edited and condensed.

Savannah Flynn is a public relations specialist for WebpageFX, a full-service Internet marketing, web design and web development agency offering integrated web solutions for medium to large sized businesses across the globe. She has a passion for online marketing and PR.

 

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