Taking on the Myths of Education Benefits

millennial employees

Some years ago, a CEO I know expressed skepticism about education programs to fill positions.
 
Let’s just say the talent crisis has opened his eyes.
 
“It’s so much easier to train somebody who already works for you,” he said recently, “than it is to find and train somebody brand new.”
 
Spoken like a business leader with skills gaps to fill.  
 
That outside is the only place to look for “new hires” is one of the great misperceptions of talent strategies. These days, some employers are so bullish about training and reskilling, they’re putting tuition programs under talent management and acquisition.
 
But for all the recognition they’re getting, there are still some myths about education programs that continue to hang on.
 
Like what?
 
It takes too long to develop skills: Education doesn’t have to be four-year degrees. More and more proficiencies are being ably served by certificates, boot camps, and certifications that deliver on-demand skills in dramatically shorter time – think weeks or months, not years. That’s not to say traditional degrees are defunct. Only that they’re not the only show in town.
 
It’s all about the cap: The old way says that how much money you reimburse equals how much education employees can buy. But that’s wrong. In fact, how you pay is as important as how much. And addressing affordability – via partnerships with schools that cover multiple classes under a single fee and direct bill that keeps employees from having to pay up front – stretches your budget and drives participation, potentially delivering more education to more employees at a lower per-employee cost. 
 
It’s a check-the-box benefit: Not if you’ve designed it right. A well-crafted program is fully functional, matching the skills the company needs to the skills your employees want. Plus, with career growth a stated employee priority, you’ll be strengthening recruitment and retention at the same time.  
 
It only courts one demographic: young people aren’t the only folks longing to grow careers. Automation is shifting the skills even experienced workers need to succeed. And the current talent crunch is such that all hands are needed on deck. “The conventional wisdom on retraining older workers is they are too old or set in their ways to learn new things and update their skills,” wrote a team of authors in a Harvard Business Review article called, “Rethinking Retraining.” “We think this is a narrow view that overlooks the significant value these people can bring to the economy.
 
It doesn’t support the whole workforce: Shortages span all specialties, with frontline crunches among the most dire. Frontline-focused education (such as our fully paid degree program for teachers) not only grows specific skills, it also retains valuable employees with company-paid opportunities for personal growth. Industries from healthcare to hospitality are reaping the rewards.
 
One thing’s for sure: education gets noticed. Our own program generated nearly 2,000 inquiries and 700 signups in only a few months. “We’re finding that, both from a recruitment standpoint as well as from a retention standpoint,” our CEO Stephen Kramer told Bloomberg Radio’s Bay State Business Hour earlier this year, “it really does hit the mark for our teachers.”
 
And hitting the mark for employees means delivering for the organization, too.

Written by: Alan Robins

January 16, 2019

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.