This week’s blog content comes from the folks over at Employee Benefit News. If you are planning to add an education component to your employee benefits package, the team at Cypress Benefit Solutions can help you optimize your communication strategy and track recruitment / retention metrics.
The best way to retain employees might be to let them go — back to school, that is.
Months of remote work has made employees contemplate their purpose, and they’re prepared to quit their jobs for better opportunities. In an effort to keep workers engaged, child care provider Bright Horizons offers a program called FastTrack as part of their EdAssist Solutions. The service gives employees the opportunity to obtain high school diplomas and college certificates affordably.
“We think of education as a benefit,” says Patrick Donovan, senior vice president at Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions. “We manage it to make sure that it\’s as easy as possible for the employees to take advantage of what their employers want them to do in any area of development.”
Education has become a leading factor behind unemployment during the pandemic. The difference in the unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma or less and a bachelor’s degree or more was 2.2 percentage points pre-COVID — the gap increased to 8.8 percentage points in May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Employees with a lower education level are traditionally in service industry roles that are suffering from lack of revenue due to COVID, according to Donovan. These are also roles that may be automated at a higher rate. For those still employed, it may be financially challenging to upskill and keep up with new technologies.
“One thing the pandemic has done is wake people up to the idea of improving their economic security,” he says. “[Employees] are going to be looking for employers that offer workplace development programs.”
Enrollment in accelerated programs such as FastTrack has grown 40% in the last year as employees seek new education opportunities, greater job security and the potential to explore new options, according to a release. Bright Horizons has approximately 220 schools in their education network they’ve negotiated discounts with. They also provide academic and financial advisors to assist employers and employees with building an education plan.
Educational benefits not only provide a steadier financial future, but make employers more attractive to prospective hires, Donovan says. Employees are more confident at work and more loyal to their employer when their tuition and fees are subsidized.
Lauren Floyd, health and safety director at Bright Horizons, felt left behind after being unable to complete her college degree due to financial reasons. When Bright Horizons presented her with the opportunity to further her education through their Horizons Degree Program two years ago, she jumped at the chance.
“It opened a door I didn’t think I was capable of being able to walk through,” Floyd says.
Despite being furloughed a few months into the pandemic, Bright Horizons allowed Floyd to keep her education benefits. In September of 2020, she graduated with a BA in early childhood education and administration from Ashford University, which led to her landing her position with the company.
Once employers see the payoff — better recruiting, better retention and better productivity — the choice is easy to offer these benefits, according to Floyd.
“Once you give an employee a bite,they never want to stop growing,” she says.