Salaries, health care, paid time off, work travel, remote work—these are some of the top-tier job perks that people often put at the top of their list when it comes to employment incentives. But education opportunities are another category of perks that are often overlooked.
Education Options Valued by Employees
Education as a job benefit can come in many forms. For example, an employer might offer to reimburse professional staff (doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, etc.) for continuing education obligations. Or, it might offer to pay for tuition toward an associate’s, a bachelor’s, or a master’s degree. An employer might even offer to assist with repayment of student loans.
Traditionally, employers have viewed paying for education as an investment in their own best interests. Consequently, education expenditures have been tied closely to the needs of the company—job-specific training or reimbursement for professional education needed to maintain licensure, for example. But as the costs of formal education continue to rise and the labor market remains tight, some employers are seeing education funding as a means of attracting and retaining top talent.
Beyond One-Off Training Options to Degreed Programs
“Gone are the days of one-off professional development courses,” writes Dr. Angela Jackson in an article for Forbes. She reports that leading-edge employers are broadly offering employees opportunities to earn degrees, citing Amazon, Macy’s, and Starbucks as some big-brand examples.
“Historically, employers have spent 80% of their professional development dollars on their highest wage earners,” Jackson adds. “We will see that in 2022 and beyond, more employers will shift to adopt an ‘education as a benefit’ strategy to attract, retain and grow their workforce at all levels.”
Jackson points to edtech platforms like Guild Education as options employers are using to streamline the upskilling process and offer employees flexibility to literally learn from anywhere.
In a tight labor market, employers need to get creative to attract and retain the best talent. Many savvy recruiters have connected the dots between this need and the simultaneous student debt crisis making education (past, present, and future) seem unaffordable for many employees. Offering education as a benefit might be just the perk to bring in great staff while encouraging continued employee development.
Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.