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Employers see benefits of education assistance programs

Employers see benefits of education assistance programs

Despite little participation in employee education assistance programs, employers still find it worthwhile to offer the benefit, according to a report issued by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

According to the IFEBP survey, of the 83% of organizations that offer a form of education assistance or tuition reimbursement to workers, 75% reported the program is successful. That's despite the fact that in many organizations, less than 5% of workers participate in the programs, according to the survey of 338 employers conducted in June.

Education assistance programs commonly provide an employee with a fixed dollar amount of $5,000-$6,999, and most organizations require employees to earn a minimum grade for course reimbursement, the foundation said Tuesday in a statement announcing the survey results.

Nearly half of organizations require payback of funds if an employee leaves before a specified period after completing the coursework, according to the statement.

Employers offer education assistance programs for several reasons: 52.1% of employers offer the programs to retain current employees, 42.6% do so to keep employees satisfied and loyal, and 41.1% do so to help employees stay up to date on the skill sets needed for the job.

Other reasons include attracting future talent and promoting and maintaining innovation productivity, according to the survey.

According to the survey, 45% of employers said their programs were successful in retaining current employees, 44.3% kept employees current on evolving skill sets, 39.4% maintained or increased employee satisfaction and loyalty, 15.6% attracted future talent, and 12.8% maintained or increased productivity and innovation.

Only 2% of organizations plan to decrease their emphasis on educational benefits over the next five years, while 29% of respondents expect to increase their emphasis.

“Educational assistance benefits are a win-win,” Julie Stich, research director of the foundation, said in a statement. “They work as a recruitment device and cost-effective way to grow a workforce's knowledge and skills. This benefit is especially of interest to millennials, who are looking for opportunities to learn and advance in their careers.”

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