Regardless of an organization's mantra or aspirations, as it succeeds, its work force will inevitably grow and leaders will begin to emerge. In order to realize future profit targets, successful firms must work to not only retain their current employees but also to enhance the skill set of their personnel.
Far too often, managers focus on the present value of their staff rather than assessing future returns from investment in their work force. By offering education assistance programs for loyal employees, businesses can amplify their core competencies and lock in potential profits.
The American Society of Training and Development found that investing in employee training and education may pay dividends for private and publicly held firms in just a few years. In fact, based on research conducted on publicly held firms between 1996 and 1998, the group concluded that increasing education-based expenditures by $680 per employee yielded an average 6 percent improvement in share-holder return.
Although internal training is a must for most companies, the added benefits of higher education for employees has some businesses sending the best and brightest back to class. Moreover, company-directed instruction may actually translate to credits toward a higher education degree. A growing number of organizations are partnering with learning institutions to develop training programs tailored to specific industries or skill sets relevant to their business.
Whether to complete an unfinished undergraduate degree or to attain the knowledge and status that come with an MBA, higher education remains paramount to continued professional success for employees and the organizations for which they work.
Benefits of providing higher education assistance
From increasing productivity to reducing turnover, there are numerous motivators for businesses to offer and encourage education assistance programs.
* Applicable knowledge. While pursuing a degree, employees can master a range of pertinent skills and are exposed to emerging strategies, trends and models for success that may not be currently utilized by their organization. Many of today's forward-thinking universities focus on working adult learners by providing real-world applications that are relevant on the job the following day.
* Efficiency. By enabling employees to further their education outside the confines of their company structure, managers are reducing the time investment that goes into organizing, implementing and monitoring the instructional process.
* Employee retention. Managers can show their long-term dedication to their team by supporting an employee's educational aspirations. Although economic downturn has seen businesses of all sizes scale back benefits and perks, savvy firms know that key programs like education assistance are valued by employees and end up benefiting the employer.
* Credibility. While company-specific accreditations and training certificates are important measures of achievement within an organization or specific industry, it is human nature for potential clients and fellow employees to hold those with accredited degrees in higher esteem.
* Perspective. Many schools focus on collaborative learning between students and instructors, thus stimulating education based on ideas and experiences from dramatically different industries. By working with a diverse group of peers, adult learners gain valuable new perspectives and can apply these insights to their jobs immediately.
* Flexibility. Nontraditional universities enable working professionals to earn degrees more efficiently by offering manageable course loads and convenient night, evening and online courses. This new trend allows employees to attend classes without missing a day of work.
* Networking. Since classes for today's working adults are typically filled with fellow professionals, it is not uncommon for key business leads or strategic alliances to develop as a result of a collaborative project or regular study group.
There are a number of emerging universities in the Indianapolis area designed specifically for working professionals that can meet any company's educational needs. By utilizing these institutions to invest in their employees, businesses can give themselves an edge well into the future.
Simon Lumley is vice president of Indiana operations and Indianapolis campus director for the University of Phoenix. University of Phoenix offers accessible higher education options uniquely tailored for Indianapolis' working business professionals. Reach Lumley at (317) 585-8610 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.