A Step-by-Step Guide to Solving Frontline Shortages

frontline workers education pathways

Sometimes opportunities come cloaked as perfect storms.

Take two of today's most news-making employer problems: the unemployment rate and the quit rate. Deloitte says nearly half of Millennials are eying the door in the next two years. The numbers are even more abysmal on the frontlines where turnover is a whopping 150 percent. It's harsh news in a market where the jobless number keeps dipping under four percent.

The perfect storm is the hard hit on both sides of the hiring equation. And the opportunity is to solve both problems and deliver on your hardest-to-find skills - all while giving employees something they value.

This was a reality we embraced in house where our identified frontline challenge is teachers  - 20 thousand of them, all crucial to our mission of educating young children. We know that in the current talent market you have to fill many roles by developing talent internally; we also know that employees crave pathways to growth. Our opportunity then was to build the skills we need by offering hard-working people the education they desired.

Taking on Frontline Shortages by Showing Employees the Pathway

As a company, we've long offered and benefited from employee education programs. Come to any of our annual Bright Horizons events and you'll hear employees telling their stories about degrees earned with tuition assistance, and pathways that have taken them to successful careers across company departments.

But this program would have to be different, with a singular approach that could address the large-scale education frontline challenge. Our Early Education Degree Achievement Plan (EEDAP) was strategically built from the ground up for the very specific talent we needed, with each piece of the program addressing a specific element on our wish list:

Courting a particular skill set

We've long said one way to encourage the skills you need is to increase the reimbursement amount for that skill. Our goal was early childhood education. So we upped what we'd cover for that particular pathway; employees pursuing early childhood degrees under this program can earn an associate and bachelor's degrees for free.

Recruiting today's teachers

Developing skills is all well and good, but we also need people today. So EEDAP has no waiting period - employees are eligible for the program from their first day working at Bright Horizons.

Developing tomorrow's teachers

As any adult learner will tell you, going back to school can be intimidating. So EEDAP is built around a clear pathway to success, with four schools to choose from and education advisors to help find the program that fits.

Removing obstacles

The price of school is more than just tuition. And fees and books alone can be cost prohibitive. EEDAP will cover all expenses up front, without even asking employees to pay out of pocket and submit for reimbursement.

Retaining teachers

As with any tuition program, there are guidelines for length of employment after degree - in our case 18 months. The goal is not just to keep employees, but to encourage a direct path to a lifelong professional career in early education.

The concept is great in theory, but the proof is in the operation. So, how's it working? Just a few weeks in, more than 1,000 people have expressed interest - both existing employees and new recruits. That means it's already delivering on tomorrow's skills and today's teachers. And the approach can be adapted for different frontline shortages and skillsets. Other directed pathways are delivering for our client organizations in similar ways.

"We are rooted in the belief that everyone at every age deserves a great education," our CEO Stephen Kramer said in announcing the initiative earlier this month. "This program will give teachers at every level and stage the ability to continue their education, grow their careers and ultimately improve the quality of education for the youngest children across North America."

Great teachers. Satisfied employees on the road to a career; the best kind of perfect storm.

Written by: Alan Robins

About the Author

Alan Robins at Bright Horizons

As Director of Product Marketing, Alan drives original research and thought leadership for Bright Horizons education benefits programs, drawing on his extensive experience helping companies optimize education programs to support their Talent and HR objectives. Prior to Bright Horizons, Alan was at Gartner, a global leader in providing advisory services to technology and business executives, where he led new product teams in Europe and the US.