Every year, people make self-improvement wish lists – those things we know as New Year’s resolutions.
And every year, research says many get abandoned because of will power (chocolate is a powerful force) or obstacles such as money, time, and fear.
Those last three certainly affect adults who want to go back to school. Getting a degree sounds great in theory, but the personal, financial, and psychological investments are intimidating, and often hold people back.
But that’s a shame for a lot of reasons. New skills energize people (learning something new, in fact, is this year’s sixth most popular New Year’s resolution). And the current skills shortage makes developing people one of an employer’s most powerful talent strategies. So there are good reasons for employers to help – and they can.
A tuition program is a great start, but it will have to be well-crafted to take on the big three of money, time, and confidence.
A few strategies:
Affordability is key. And discounted-tuition (via negotiated agreements with schools) takes on affordability, stretching the employer’s contribution, and so meaning a smaller amount owed by employees. Flat-rate programs take tuition money even further, allowing people to take more classes under a single year’s tuition cap. And don’t forget about paying down existing student loans – a big help for the large number of employees already carrying student debt.
How can you save people time? Make the degree programs shorter. The same flat-rate programs that save money can accelerate completion by allowing people to get through more of their degree in a single year. Expert advisors add to the time savings by pointing people to important elements such as credits they may have already earned via earlier schooling or life experience.
One big obstacle for people is the question of what it’s all worth. By offering some assurance of what’s awaiting them on the other side, education pathways – programs assembled to guide employees to specific skills needed to progress into pre-identified high-demand jobs – give people a clear sense of what they’re working for.
Supporting Employee Development in the New Year
Those are just a few strategies. And there are good reasons to use them. Most – 84% — of employees told our recent survey that education played a big part in the choice of their current job. So offering those educational opportunities — making a degree financially, physically, and psychologically feasible –might just keep valuable employees from jumping ship.
In the current talent market (4.1% unemployment), that’s a big deal. Especially since number 7 on this year’s list of New Year’s resolutions… was finding a new job.
And that’s one resolution you definitely don’t want them to keep.