How to Add Tuition Assistance to Your Talent Management Program
When most people think of employee benefits, they think of things like health insurance, vacation and other perks. In addition to these valuable programs, an increasingly important benefit for human resources departments to consider adding is tuition assistance. Given the need for a highly-educated workforce as we face an uncertain economy, an education benefit is a timely and effective tool to integrate into your talent management program.
What is a tuition assistance program?
Generally speaking, a tuition assistance program (TAP) is an employer-provided benefit that helps pay for an employee to take education courses, depending on specific criteria that the employee meets.
The financial assistance falls into two categories: reimbursement, in which an employee pays for a course upfront and then receives payment from the organization once the course is done; or prepayment, in which an organization pays for a course before the employee completes it.
In both situations, there are eligibility requirements for employees to take part in the program. For example, an employer may declare what kinds of courses are approved for an employee to enroll in, or set a maximum amount of tuition that they’ll cover within a year.
Why implement a tuition assistance program?
Attract and Retain Employees — And Get a Tax Advantage
According to RSM, “Employer-provided education assistance is increasingly popular in today’s environment of high education costs, tight workforce competition, and specialized job duties. The opportunity to participate in educational programs may not only improve recruitment and retention, but also help employers maintain an educated and skilled workforce.” Plus, employers can exclude up to $5,250 in education benefits per employee from taxable income.
The happier employees are, the happier the organization will be in attracting—and keeping—the right people for the job. And when this workforce benefit coincides with a tax advantage, it’s a win-win.
Whether an employee is brand new or is a seasoned veteran, a tuition assistance program allows organizations to recognize the need and opportunity to continually train and grow their staff.
Having a tuition assistance program in place creates an intentional system to nurture employees’ skills. Given the right learning opportunities, employees can perform at an even more productive level. And when employees’ skills are upgraded, the organization gets a boost, too: as the Forbes article headlines, happy employees mean hefty profits.
In addition to outward gains like productivity and revenue, offering an educational benefit could lead to big intrinsic payoffs as well. The authors of The Progress Principle outline some telling results related to internal motivation in the workplace:
“Our research shows that inner work life has a profound impact on workers’ creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality. Employees are far more likely to have new ideas on days when they feel happier. Conventional wisdom suggests that pressure enhances performance; our real-time data, however, shows that workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do.”
In other words, the mental and emotional wins of engaging employees can be just as great—or even greater—than the financial ones.
Whether you’re a business, foundation or nonprofit, there’s an opportunity to tailor education programs based on your organization’s needs. Honing your employees’ professional and personal skills is incredibly beneficial—and a tuition assistance education program can be a prime opportunity to accomplish both.