On the face of it, the benefits of investing in employee education are obvious. There’s serious demand for it in the workforce, meaning that any company with education benefits is likely to engender a fair amount of goodwill. At the same time, the company gains critical skills without having to go through the hassle of hiring someone new.
Despite those benefits, there is the real concern that a company might invest heavily in an employee’s education, only to lose them to a competitor.
Even if that happens though, there’s a strong case to be made that the investment was still worthwhile.
Perhaps the most important point to be made in this regard is that a business benefits from an employee’s extra education the moment they start a course, not the moment they finish it.
Think about it like this: if you attend a weekly tennis clinic for a few months, you’re not going to save any new techniques you learn until the end of the clinic. Instead, you’ll use and refine them in any matches you play during that period.
The same is true of any self-respecting worker. If they see something in the course of the studies that could be of benefit right now, they’re not going to wait until they’re finished to share it with the company.
Share and share alike
That sharing is important. It means that, although not everyone will use the opportunity to study further, the whole company can benefit from those who do.
As Inc.com notes, bringing this knowledge helps a company understand things like what kind of leadership it’ll need, what its customers actually want, and what industry changes it should look out for.
If you’ve got an open, collaborative team culture, this sharing will happen naturally. Otherwise, you could always ask your employees to talk about what they’ve learned at an informal sharing session.
Either way, knowledge doesn’t have to leave when an employee does.
Thing is, for word-of-mouth recruiting to work, your employees have to act as brand ambassadors. Investing in their education can be a powerful motivator on that front. Think about it: if you invest in your employees’ education, they’re likely to tell their peers about it.
That in turn means you’re more likely to attract the kind of workers who’re interested in furthering their education.
Even if an employee leaves after you’ve invested in their education, they could well have brought a number of high quality recruits. That matters. Not only do those hires show you made an impact on that employee, they also represent that employee’s legacy at your company.
They won’t be in the majority
This is a particularly important point for any company looking to roll out a large-scale employee education programme.
Sure the odd person might leave, but investing in your employees’ education actually has the potential to decrease staff turnover.
One major US health insurer saved US$1.29 for every dollar it spent on tuition reimbursement.
That makes sense too. If you’re offering to pay for your employees to advance their education, your competitors are going to have to seriously up the ante to lure them away.
There is, of course, a caveat to this. If your employees are willing to put time and effort into education while they’re studying, chances are they’re doing it with career advancement in mind.
Show them that this is possible if you’re serious about your tuition reimbursement programme working in your favour.
Has your employer invested in your education? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.