Knowledge Is Power

E

mployees and job seekers are placing greater value on the ability to learn and grow within the position and the company.  People want to feel supported by their employers and to build skills in their jobs.  Companies are having to adjust their benefits to both recruit and retain quality employees. 

One way employers can provide their employees opportunities to learn is through job-related training.  Another is to support the education of their employees by offering a tuition reimbursement benefit.  Federal tax law in the U.S. allows employees to get up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement tax free from their employer every year, and their employers can take that same amount as a tax deduction.  That seems like an awesome benefit that everyone should take advantage of, right?!  

I was surprised to learn that  only 1 to 5 percent of current employees actually take advantage of tuition reimbursement provided by their employer.  So what’s happening here?  Are companies not communicating it widely enough?  Are only a few employees actually eligible to participate in the benefit?  

LinkedIn Learning’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report shows that the #1 reason employees feel held back from learning is because they don’t have the time.  One key step employers can take is to foster a learning culture within the organization.  From an employee perspective, it makes a huge difference knowing their company supports their continuing education and professional development.

What is a learning culture?  The Continuing Education of the Bar defines it as “a culture that supports an open mindset, an independent quest for knowledge, and shared learning directed toward the mission and goals of the organization.”  How can employers create a learning culture in the workplace?  Harvard Business Review lays out four ways to foster a culture of learning on your team:

  1. Reward continuous learning.  Employees need to feel supported and want to know that their efforts are valued by their employers.
  2. Give meaningful and constructive feedback.  It’s hard to improve when you don’t know your limitations.
  3. Lead by example.  It’s important for company leaders to practice what they preach if they want their employees to feel good about taking advantage of the benefits offered to them.
  4. Hire curious people.  If a desire and willingness to learn is already a personality trait of your hires, it will be easier to maximize the fit between their interests and their job.

Why should employers invest in their employees’ education?  

  • To increase profit margins.  Employers that offer educational training for employees saw a 24% higher profit margin than employers who spent less on training.  
  • To improve performance.  At companies rated as Best Performing Organizations by IBM, 84% of employees were receiving the training that they needed, contrasted with only 16% of employees in the lowest performing company. 
  •  To increase employee satisfaction.  According to LinkedIn Learning’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career.  

All in all, employers can improve their bottom line, the skill of their workforce, retention, and employee satisfaction simultaneously by making employee training and education a priority.  

And ultimately, this ties back to the reason why so many companies and investors are choosing to incorporate ESG into their business strategy – to improve their impact on both people and profit in a way that is supportive and sustainable. 


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