Tuition assistance is used as a talent-management strategy. The idea is that employees will not stay unless they are challenged. They will be challenged only if they are learning new skills. So employers assist employees in obtaining the new skills. In the economic downturn, though, some employers are struggling to justify the capital cost these programs can require. I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the HR Committee of a local industry-based organization. The meeting was hosted by Right Management. Kathleen Voss, the speaker, is a Right Management consultant and spoke on employee retention. During the meeting, she referred us to a report on the same topic.
The report, Strategies for Talent Management 2008, was prepared by the CEO Council for Growth in partnership with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. The report looks closely at the successful ways organizations are developing and managing their talent and, in particular, how tuition assistance is part of their talent-management initiatives.
The survey identifies 11 exemplary practices and profiles several companies in the Greater Philadelphia Region using the practices as criteria. The 11 exemplary practices in the use of tuition assistance as an effective employee-retention strategy include:
1. Prepay tuition for employees
2. Provide tuition assistance to part-time employees
3. Re-evaluate tuition caps
4. Form partnerships with educational institutions
5. Provide assistance for individual courses and for degree programs
6. Provide assistance for certificate programs
7. Promote assessment before the education program begins
8. Recognize the academic achievements of employees in the program
9. Provide educational advising to employees
10. Establish metrics
11. Communicate impact
None of the five employers reported that they were recognizing the successes of employees in the educational program. None had established metrics to measure the success of the tuition-assistance program and, as a result, none had been communicating any results of the program.
But 4 of the 5 did extend tuition assistance to part-time workers, as well as permitting tuition reimbursement or individual courses.