Workplace Training and Education: On the Job and Beyond

Workshop by Beko, Wikimedia Commons

There is a strong case to be made for supporting employee education. One of the most convincing arguments in favor of such support is that employees value it. Recent research by CEO Purchasing Power found that 53 percent of workers or their spouses would be interested in pursuing further education if their employer offered it.   

In a similar study conducted by Spherion Atlantic Enterprises LLC., a staffing and employment-services firm, 61 percent of respondents who received training or mentoring said they were very likely to remain with their current employer for the next five years or more. Multiple studies on employee engagement have shown that access to opportunities for training and education increase job satisfaction, engagement and loyalty.

Employer Perspective on Training

From the employers’ perspective, in a survey of employers across North America, 96% of respondents said continuing education improves job performance. Operationally, augmenting the knowledge and skills of employees is recognized as one of three ways a company can improve productivity.  Strategically, companies who place priority on employee development are consistently rated and perform as “best employers.” In other words, adding some sort of educational support program to the benefits you provide to employees can generate a number of positive outcomes.

Employee Education as a Benefit

Once you’ve decided that you do want to provide educational support as a benefit, there are a number of questions you need to answer before implementing.

  1. Which employees will be eligible for the program?
  2. Will eligibility be extended to spouse or other family members?
  3. Will you support only professional development activities or will personal educational goals also be eligible? 
  4. Will support be in the form of time off, flexible work hours, paid time off, partial or full tuition reimbursement, reimbursement for books and other expenses or some combination of these?
  5. What type of education and training will be eligible and to what extent (formal, informal, vocational, technical, professional, personal)?
  6. If offering tuition reimbursement, will you require successful completion of a program or attainment of threshold performance before reimbursement, or will tuition be covered up front regardless of the educational outcome?
  7. Will you require that employees provide some justification for the courses they want to take and will they be required to report back in some way on what they have learned?
  8. How will you communicate the details of the education benefit to employees?

Investing in employee professional development improves productivity, and has a positive impact on employee engagement, job satisfaction, and employee retention and loyalty. Companies that prioritize employee development are recognized as best in class and learning organizations are noted for having strong cultures and above average financial performance. In the competition for talent, providing educational opportunities and supporting their completion can be the difference that makes a difference for your company.

This article is the second in our series on Workplace Training and Education. Read the first article here

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