In the wake of the financial instability of 2008, employers are finding it more difficult to attract candidates with big monetary promises, instead opting to provide other benefits that are equally as appealing. One such area HR services have found themselves venturing into in recent years is tuition reimbursement. That’s right – employers are actually sending their employees back to school, often on the company dollar.

Schooling the working world on employee benefits
The concept of paying to send your employees back to the classroom may seem counterintuitive, but it’s far from an unheard of practice. As Human Resource Executive Online reported, roughly half of companies offer tuition assistance for graduate studies, and slightly more, at 54 percent, offer undergraduate tuition remission programs. In fact, some major corporations have made big headlines as a result of their tuition-focused benefits packages.

Coffee monolith Starbucks made recent waves upon unveiling its College Achievement Plan, a program that offers its employees full tuition reimbursement for courses taken through partner correspondence school Arizona State University. Forbes highlighted another high-profile example in aerospace firm United Technologies, which provides not only tuition coverage for a degree of the employee’s choosing, but also money for books and even up to three paid hours off per week to devote to studies.

Why head back to school?
Managers may worry about the logistical or cost-related consequences associated with helping employees pay for school, not to mention the potential hit to productivity that looms in the background when workers are dividing their time and energy between work and studies. But in reality, providing such accommodations can lead to significant benefits for worker and manager alike. On a basic level, many such programs require that the employee pursue a degree related to their job in order to be eligible for reimbursement. Such a stipulation sets up obvious benefits for employers who will come away from the deal with a staff better suited to carry out its job.

HR can reap advantages from such programs as well. As HRE Online indicated, investing in employees can lead them to invest in the company. Highlighting career paths made available by advanced degrees can help with career planning, and workers who feel that their development needs are being met are more likely to be happier with their employer, reducing turnover.