Home » Archives by category » Topic Categories » Benefits & Compensation » Voluntary Benefits
Why More Employers Are Leveraging Tuition Assistance to Attract and Retain Employees

Why More Employers Are Leveraging Tuition Assistance to Attract and Retain Employees

​In early September, Amazon announced it was going to cover 100 percent of the cost of college tuition, including books and fees, for its 750,000 hourly employees in the U.S. Over the summer, Target and Walmart made similar announcements, with coverage including both associate and undergraduate degrees.Amazon, Target and Walmart are following a trail led by Starbucks, which introduced its College Achievement Plan in 2014 and provides all U.S. employees the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree tuition free through Arizona State University’s online program. About 20,000 Starbucks workers are currently enrolled in the program, and nearly 7,000 have already earned degrees. According to a Starbucks spokesperson, the coffee chain “has a long legacy of putting our partners [employees] first. We believe that when we put them first, the result is an elevated Starbucks experience for our stores, customers and communities.”Retailers aren’t alone in their tuition reimbursement efforts. Whirlpool Corp. created an educational reimbursement initiative that offers all full-time U.S. employees who have at least one consecutive year of service reimbursement for all associate, undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as executive MBA programs. One employee, Maggie Hammaker, started on the Whirlpool assembly line when she was 19 and worked her way up to managing all of the company’s classic stand mixer assembly lines. “I don’t know that I ever could have gone back to school without [the educational reimbursement program]. From that, [I’ve] been able to advance my career,” she said.Why Companies Are Investing in Tuition Assistance It should be no surprise that a growing number of companies are providing educational benefits to employees at a time when they’re struggling to find workers to fill vacant positions and retain the workers they have. “In today’s talent market, employees want more than a paycheck. They want rewarding job opportunities, career mobility and new experiences,” said Alex Hall, senior director of learning and talent services at Liberty Mutual in Boston. Hall has personally benefitted from the company’s tuition reimbursement program, which pays all tuition, book costs and fees upon the completion of any course leading to an undergraduate or graduate degree. He’s currently completing his dual M.S. in finance/MBA at Northeastern University, and he’s been able to apply what he’s learned to his day-to-day workload. “Liberty’s tuition reimbursement program has given me the opportunity to pursue my continuing education together in partnership with my manager,” he said. “Without this generous benefit, I might not have taken the opportunity to complete this program.”Liberty Mutual encourages employees to consider the three P’s— price, pace and program—when weighing whether to return to school. Whichever educational path they choose, Hall said, it should offer value and learning quality, allow employees to balance work and life, and help them achieve their professional goals. “There is no mandate around what school an employee attends, just that the program is aligned to their career,” Hall said.  TEL Education, a learning company in Oklahoma City with 35 employees, offers two kinds of tuition and training benefits for its employees. For those …