There is no doubt that returning to school benefits employees in many ways. Whether it helps them to become more proficient in their current position or it prepares them for a better chance at promotion, acquiring additional skills and knowledge benefits employees in many ways.
The benefits of continuing education do not stop with the employee, however. Employers that encourage employees to continue their education stand to gain in a variety of ways since an educated, high-quality workforce go hand-in-glove. Well-trained and well-educated workers help companies achieve long-term viability and profitability. One of the most direct ways to encourage your employees to continue their education is to provide tuition reimbursement benefits.
A recent article in U.S. News and World Report magazine describes how Pitney-Bowes is using continuing education to improve its bottom line. The company is helping to pay the tuition for about 200 employees enrolled in graduate programs and more than 800 others who are working for their undergraduate degree.
Money well spent, the company says in the article, since picking up the tuition is one way to recruit and develop a talented workforce. If I'm taking courses in a field that I can apply to my work, then I'm going to bring back something more to the table, Bruce Gonatuti, vice president of workforce relations at Pitney Bowes, says in the article.
Whether or not tuition reimbursement is a part of the employee benefit package, a recent study conducted by Spherion Atlantic Enterprises LLC, a staffing and unemployment services firm, shows that employees who attend school while working full-time are happier on the job, more loyal to their employers, and are the best producers. The survey of employers found that 61 percent of respondents who received training said they were very likely to remain with their employer for five years or more.
Employee empowerment through education leads to greater engagement and encourages employees to take on a leadership role within the company. When one considers the cost of recruiting a qualified employee, retention is a key factor in the ability of a business to grow and prosper in today's competitive economy. Continuity, consistency, promoting and supporting corporate culture are all qualities of a good employee. Sending them back to school helps an employee achieve self-actualization and also helps them to advance their careers. The employer who encourages and promotes continuing education stands to benefit in a big way as well.
Northeastern Pennsylvania is fortunate to have several high-quality colleges and universities that offer a myriad of continuing education programs. It is incumbent upon us as educators to continue to develop cutting-edge educational programs that are responsive to the needs of the business community, while also providing employees the adult-friendly formats and delivery options they need to succeed in today's global economy.
Joseph J. Grilli, M.P.A., D.P.A., is the director of Corporate and Institutional Recruitment at Misericordia University in Dallas.