Employment benefits go well beyond health insurance and retirement offerings. In addition to perks such as flexible work arrangements and paid family leave, educational support is one benefit that continues to grow in popularity.
Career development is an area that allows businesses to impact the workforce directly through education and gives employees the opportunity to improve their skills, thus demanding better pay and improved benefits packages. A Society for Human Resource Management survey found that 61% of organizations offer undergraduate educational assistance while 59% offered graduate educational assistance.
Educational support falls under the umbrella of voluntary benefits and contributes significantly to employee retention and job satisfaction. In a 2015 Aflac Workforces Report, 88% of respondents viewed voluntary benefits as an integral part of a comprehensive benefits package, in turn leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and employee loyalty.
How to Build a Case for Continuing Your Education
Actually getting your employer to sign off on the time and financial assistance to pursue a degree may not be as easy as simply asking. You’ll want to start by testing the waters. If the financial outlook of the company you work for is less than optimistic, you may find it harder to justify having your employer foot the bill to improve your resume. Ask around to see if anyone else within the organization has received education benefits. Find out if educational assistance is outlined in the employee handbook and talk to colleagues that have traveled this path before you to get advice on how to approach the company so that you can avoid sticking points.
You may need to make a business case for your desire to return to school. This means quantifying the added value of your education to the company and identify tangible ways it will benefit the company. Try to anticipate any questions you may face from your boss that focus on both long- and short-term outcomes, and be prepared to present options to your employer. You’ll want to paint a realistic picture of your time requirements and sell them on the school of your choosing.
Prepare your own questions so that you know what will be expected of you in return for receiving this benefit from your employer. Are there academic standards you will be held to? Is there a loyalty contract involved? What happens if you drop out? These are all expectations you are going to want to be aware of before you start down the road to continuing education. Pay close attention to details. If you know exactly how much money you will require and what your schedule will be like, while remaining patient and persistent, you’ll more than likely get a positive response.