Are you worried than not enough of your employees are using your tuition reimbursement program? Do you think it might need an update? Here are our suggestions for how to go about refreshing this important benefit.
Why Tuition Reimbursement?
Educational benefits are a fantastic option to offer employees. They're an attractive perk that draws in potential employees, conveys employee appreciation and, even better, allows employees to learn and grow in a way that will ultimately benefit the organization. However, this benefit can go underutilized. Here are our suggestions for how to update your tuition reimbursement program so that your employees actually use it.
Do a Survey
There's no better way to find out what your employees might want from an education benefit than to ask them directly. Consider conducting an online survey asking employees why they do or do not take advantage of your current tuition reimbursement program and what they would like to see changed or updated about it. Find out what type of education benefit they would actually use. This is the most efficient and straightforward way to learn about the educational needs and preferences of your workforce so you can better meet them.
You may find that many employees aren't taking advantage of your tuition reimbursement benefit because of a lack of information or convenience. For starters, are you sure that all of your employees are even aware of the program? Sure, you mentioned it during the onboarding process, but have they heard about it at all since? Furthermore, it isn't enough to just communicate the existence of the benefit; you also have to make sure that it's clear how the program works.
If the policies and restrictions associated with your tuition reimbursement program are confusing, you might want to simplify them. It's also worth considering that the program might just be inconvenient. If you offer a traditional reimbursement-style benefit, the upfront cost may make it a prohibitive one for your employees. If that appears to be the case, you might want to think about offering pre-paid learning opportunities to help eliminate the hassle of the reimbursement process.
Explore Nontraditional Learning Options
These days, education is much more widely available and multi-faceted when compared to the traditional in-school learning environment. There are many ways your employees might be able to learn new skills other than going to night school at a local college. But if your tuition reimbursement program doesn't make room for these nontraditional learning options, you (and your employees) could be missing out. Consider offering assistance for such options as:
- Ongoing microlearning opportunities (brief, specific instructional units)
- Massive open online courses (MOOC)
- Short-term intensive seminars
- Memberships to education providers
- Conference stipends
The more open you are to offering education assistance, the more opportunities your workforce will have to pursue lifelong learning, benefiting both themselves and your company.
If you're finding that your tuition reimbursement program is underutilized, it could be well worth your time to reexamine and perhaps restructure it. The suggestions above can make for a useful starting point, but follow your own findings. Nobody knows what is right for your company more than its own HR leaders.
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