Tuition Reimbursement Program Options for Businesses With Small Budgets
As with anything, a small budget doesn't have to mean you're out of the game. It just means you have to learn how to play a bit more resourcefully. And when it comes to offering an enticing benefit like tuition reimbursement, small businesses definitely don't have to sit this one out.
Like bfs capital says, "As a small business, you're competing mightily for good employees, with other small- and medium-sized businesses and with larger companies. Even the best salaries have limits, so the deciding factor in snagging a desirable employee might just be in the benefits you offer, both intangible and tangible."
Which is why it's crucial that you learn how to work with your small business' budget to ensure you're able to offer benefits that will make your company desirable to the most sought-after candidates.
Why a Tuition Reimbursement Program Is Important
When you're working with a tight budget, it might be tempting to overlook a costly benefit like tuition reimbursement. However, offering this benefit, even if it's modified to fit a small budget, shows a strong commitment to employees and sends a message that you're invested in their long-term potential.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, "[Peter] Cappelli finds that tuition assistance programs appear to allow firms to hire better quality, more educated, more productive, employees."
The article went on to state that: "Tuition assistance tempts employees to stay longer with the company as they make use of the benefit, spending their evenings and weekends working through a schedule of college courses towards a degree -- a part-time process that could last many years. Lower turnover saves employers on the substantial costs of searching for and hiring new employees to replace those leaving. Tuition assistance also may give employers a hint as to which of their workers possess superior ability."
As you can see, offering tuition reimbursement to prospective and current employees can help attract and retain them for years. After all, when you know a company is invested in you, it enhances not only your loyalty to them, but also your job performance and your job satisfaction rates.
Modifying Tuition Reimbursement to Fit Your Budget
Small businesses can offer an attractive tuition reimbursement program to employees as long as it's modified to fit their budget. While larger companies can meet the maximum offering of $5,250, which is the current IRS limit for tuition reimbursement, smaller companies can do something slightly different.
Here are a few options for companies with a small budget:
- Offer X amount you can afford per employee but limit it to online classes, certifications, and conferences, as that can often make your dollar amount go much further than it would at a traditional university.
- Sites like Straighterline.com, Lynda.com, eCornell.com, and CodeAcademy.com provide affordable ways for people to receive training and college credits for less money than a brick-and-mortar university would charge. Including sites like this as options in your program (or restricting it to them specifically) will ensure that employees feel they have a wide variety of quality options to continue their education - while staying within your budget.
- Paying only for certifications is also an option that enables employees to learn new skills without taxing your budget too heavily.
- Look into negotiating a deal for classes/trainings. As Inc. says, "Larger companies or even smaller ones with specific educational needs, may be able to save money by providing a certain number of students for a course. If, for example, a dozen employees from one company need to take a basic class, that company may be able to arrange a reduced rate or even a special class just for employees."
As Anne Mulcahy, former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation, says, "Employees are a company's greatest asset -- they're your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company's mission."
Without capable, dedicated employees, a company of any size is weak. And while offering tuition reimbursement can be a factor that sways a top candidate's decision to work at your company - it can also be the thing that keeps them loyal to you - and helps keep your company in business.
If you think of tuition reimbursement as not only an investment in your employees, but the success of your company overall, you will understand the all-encompassing value and potential it has.