Developing the Employee, Developing the Company ¾

The world of business is changing everyday. New trends, new markets, and new ideas open to a more competitive business setting, requiring companies to keep themselves at par with the others. One way for companies to do this is to support professional continuing education for their employees.

However, given hectic schedules, corporate deadlines, and the steep price tag attached to professional continuing education, many employees think twice before taking up professional courses—but not when companies are willing to help. To compete, companies must open themselves to professional development strategies for their employees which can be made possible through educational funding and time management support.

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It is understandable for some firms to feel uncomfortable about spending for their employees’ college tuition fees. For one, manpower piracy is a reality in business and when this happens to an employee whose education was funded by the company, it is an automatic loss for the firm.
Also, employees may not be able to balance work and education at the same time; and when the employee loses grip on either of the two it is the company who loses in the end. Still, strategic planning and compromise can help the company help the employees with their desire to continue their education while overcoming these fears and risks.
In a survey done in Boston, more companies are again willing to pay for their employees’ continuing college education after the trend declined years back. (DeMarco, 2005) This is not surprising. Now, more than ever, companies know that professional education gives a holistic effect to their companies.
While uplifting the lives of employees through education, companies receive a lot of perks and privileges just by sending their employees to school again.
Multiple Benefits
Strategic funding of professional education among employees allows them to take courses for free or at a discounted rate, making them feel good about working in their firms and attracting them to stay. They also receive new ideas, new experiences, and get to mingle with new people who can help them excel in their fields.
Education also protects them within the competitive employment world where younger, more skilled workers are entering everyday. But employees are not only the ones who benefit from these educational programs. Companies are likewise positively affected.
DeMarco (2005) states that companies who offer professional development programs such as tuition fee reimbursement, tuition fee funding, or tuition fee discounting are more attractive to applicants than those companies who do not have similar programs.
In effect, employees are also more likely to stay in these companies and not think of jumping to another firm who does not offer professional development packages. Most importantly, companies improve their stand in the business world when they help their employees develop themselves.
Theories change, practices change, and industries change. Employees who continue their education as professionals bring to the company new ideas and skills that are useful for the company to move forward and face growing competition.
The article Six Ways to Encourage Employee Development (2007) agrees to this, saying that the best benefit that a company can get on funding their employees’ education is the expertise, which can be cost-effective for the company sooner or later.
By helping employees attain professional courses, the company creates a pool of in-house knowledge that is easily accessible for the company at less cost because the company will no longer need to subscribe to outsourcing services. In the end, the company benefits from the lead it can take in terms of market trends.
Apprehensions
But then again companies may not fully subscribe to the idea of retention through continuing education. Anything can happen, so to speak. Employees can suddenly quit their jobs, switch employers, fail the course, or lose the balance between work and school. Again, strategic planning is the answer.
Companies can offer educational funding while protecting their interests on the side. To begin with, firms should know exactly what type of courses should be funded and it follows that these should be courses that will be useful for the operation of the company.
The company should also assess their ability to fund the program, and identify if full reimbursement, discounting, or upfront funding will be workable for both the employee and the employer. It is also important to set conditions such as a holding period for the employee after his education has been funded, or a grade requirement to determine the percentages of the funding that may be given.
(Establishing a tuition reimbursement program, 2007) This can solve much of the dilemma that a company may have in supporting professional continuing education for their employees.
Time Management
When a company finally decides to offer funding for the professional continuing education of their employees, the responsibility does not stop in the finances. School can take considerable time and effort from students, especially for adults who have work and familial responsibilities. All three roles can be physically and emotionally demanding, if not draining.
On the other hand, it is understandable for companies to expect good results from these studying workers. Besides, they are hired to work for the company so they must perform impressively at work; and they are assisted in their professional education so they should also bring in good grades. But companies should also understand the difficulty of maintaining an everyday balance between work and school life among other things.
Thus, it is helpful for companies to offer these studying employees options in handling work, school, and their personal lives. Flexible working hours, telecommuting options, and minor exceptions to work attendance regulations when needed such as during examination periods can do so much for an employee to manage his time.
In doing so, the employees are in top shape at work and school, and still have time for his personal responsibilities. It will also then be right for the company to demand good performance from the employee on both aspects. (Establishing a tuition reimbursement program, 2007)
An Investment
Offering tuition fee funding schemes and time leniency to employees can take a lot of effort from companies, and there are also a lot of risks. However, employers can rest assured that with a strategically planned education plan for their employees, every dollar is well spent.
While it is not a requirement for companies to offer such privilege to employees, it helps them build a good reputation and allows them to invest in something that will never fail.
Education is a good investment that benefits the employee-students and the company as well. While education can require a large sum of money and patience in the part of employers especially when the studying employee is caught between a school and a work deadline, the company will surely benefit. And as with good investments, the rewards are in the end.
References
DeMarco,P. 2005. Companies pick up college tab. Retrieved May 9, 2007, from http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2005/09/25/companies_pick_up_college_tab/
Establishing a tuition reimbursement program. 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2007, from http://www.allbusiness.com/human-resources/employee-development/1163-1.html
Six ways to encourage employee development. 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2007, from http://www.allbusiness.com/human-resources/employee-development/1240-1.html

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