How important is education? Horace Mann, a Senator, Congressman, and Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education in the early nineteenth Century, once said, “A human being is not attaining his full heights until he is educated.” The statement can be easily modified to the corporate world. Your employees cannot reach their full potential without continuing education. Knowledge can come from training, experience, or employee retention programs like education reimbursement.
The acquisition of new knowledge either in your industry or in general makes those who work for you more valuable to the company and more confident in their own abilities. One of the greatest fears preventing employers from subsidizing employee education is the concern that, once they obtain a degree or certificate they will leave. That could not be more incorrect. More often than not, if they don’t have an educational incentive with you, they’ll leave anyway. Worse yet, they may become complacent and decide to stay.
Incentives help you Choose the Direction of Employee Education
Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft and IBM both have educational incentive programs that reward employees for taking specific courses that relate directly to company direction and advancement. Both companies are working with an E-Learning company called Cenquest, taking classroom content from schools like the University of Texas and Babson College and converting it to an online format. For these companies, this investment in education builds employee satisfaction and increases retention because it makes employees feel more valued.
Other companies are following a similar path. Learning is actually part of their culture, with the more progressive firms setting aside time each week dedicated to education. Mind Valley, an international group with a focus on education, in the “Careers” section of their website, offers some good suggestions on how to do this. One of the better ones is the implementation of a 45/5 plan, where forty-five hours (an average work week) is coupled with five hours dedicated purely to learning. You can use this time for classes, educational lunches, or even to create a forum for industry speakers to do presentations.
Higher Education Adds Value to the Workplace
The founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Harvey S. Firestone, once said, “It is only as we develop others that we permanently succeed.” Harvey passed away in 1938. The company he built was sold in 1988 to Bridgestone for $2.6 Billion. At the time, Firestone had over 1500 service centers in the United States, all staffed by workers and management who bought into Harvey’s philosophy of employee development. Bridgestone, the company that bought them, offers continuing education assistance and scholarship programs for employee’s children.
Firestone/Bridgestone is a good example of how providing incentives for higher learning can increase longevity and raise the overall value of a company. Management can increase employee engagement and get individuals to teach their co-workers new skills by building a culture where learning is a priority. There are also tax benefits to supplementing someone’s education. Need more evidence? An August 2012 article in BizFilings.com profiles additional benefits to paying for workers to go back to school. We’ll be talking more about it in upcoming posts, so make sure you subscribe to our blog before you leave this page.
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