Attracting, recruiting, training and retaining employees can be costly endeavors for any organization. Supporting and encouraging employee development is a great way to lower these costs, especially in industries with high turnover rates. To help build a workplace of engaged, motivated workers, encourage your employees to pursue promotions, further their education and make improvements in areas of weakness.1 Industry giants such as Starbucks and Home Depot have implemented generous employee development benefits. Fiat/Chrysler recently expanded their partnership with Strayer University to provide free college for all employees and their immediate family members.2 These companies know that better educated employees make for better employees. Attract and retain top talent by giving them a compelling reason to grow with your company.

Tuition Reimbursement & High School Completion Programs

Consider offering a tuition reimbursement program. Doing so attracts employees who are motivated, ambitious and willing to improve their lives through hard work. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER),3 tuition assistance programs enable employers to hire better quality and more productive employees. "That extra productivity makes it economically feasible to pay a large portion of employees' tuition bills," researcher Peter Cappelli noted in a report titled, "Why Do Employers Pay for College?"

Employees also need and want the benefit, so they are less likely to leave their job while receiving it. In this way, a tuition reimbursement program helps reduce high turnover rates. The NBER found that lower turnover saves employers on the substantial costs of searching for and hiring new employees.

Starbucks provides free online education to its employees, including both full- and part-time workers, and KFC, Home Depot, The Gap and Best Buy have tuition reimbursement programs as well. To control costs, consider setting a reimbursement cap. Employers who are worried that people will use the benefit to get a degree and then leave may wish to require employees to remain employed with them for a certain length of time.

Also consider offering a High School Completion (HSC) program to those who have not completed high school. HSC programs can be delivered either online or in a blended learning environment, and they give employees the flexibility they need to manage school with work and home responsibilities.

HSC programs are most relevant in the quick service restaurant and retail industries and other industries with an abundance of hourly employees who don't need a high school diploma to get hired. Employers can make the most of offering this type of programs by:

  • Requiring a certain commitment to the job after the program is completed
  • Implementing a clear path for growth after graduation
  • Scheduling frequent progress check-ins and finding ways to apply the employee's current school curriculum to the job

Schedule Flexibility

Satisfaction in a work environment is strongly correlated with an employee's flexibility at work and happiness with work-life balance. According to a study by Workplace Flexibility4, alternative work arrangements, flexible work schedules and other family-friendly programs are effective tools in reducing turnover and tardiness while increasing productivity, job satisfaction and company loyalty. In addition, according to new survey results from FlexJobs5, 83 percent of employees said they would be more loyal to their employer if they had flexible work options.

Happier employees are more likely to find purpose in their work and are therefore more motivated to work harder. For employees who want to further their education, there's nothing more important than giving them the schedule flexibility they need to successfully manage external obligations, including those related to school and family. It shows employees that you support them in their endeavors.

Career Training and Coaching

Education can take place beyond the walls of academic institutions. In-house training and coaching for employees already committed to a specific industry proves to be a sought-after benefit for many employees. Training can take place in the form of one-on-one training and mentorship, outside seminars, leadership opportunities and in-house certification.

Implementing training and coaching programs reduces turnover and increases employee loyalty by giving employees the tools they need to succeed. Employees gain added confidence by learning the skills that will propel their career to the next level.

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Resources: Photo credit. (1) 8 Ways Top Hospital Leaders Encourage Employee Development (2) A For-Profit Initiative That Just Might Work (3) Why Companies Pay for College (4) Workplace Flexibility Fact Sheet (5) How Work Flexibility Benefits Employers