This case study in the December issue of Chief Learning Officer about Verizon Wireless' tuition assistance program scratches me right where I itch. Verizon Wireless is nailing it, and the case study shows the results that are proving it. I won't quote the results (you can read the article) but employees who participated in and graduated from a program, using their tuition assistance program had higher retention, promotions and lateral moves, and increased job performance.
Verizon Wireless is doing this with employees in primarily customer service and sales positions, traditionally high turnover jobs. They don't just have a tuition assistance program, they treat it as a investment with potential returns and promote it in a variety of ways to encourage employees to participate. They want employees to participate because they know those who participate are more loyal and perform better than people who do not participate. Bingo!
Verizon Wireless realizes that it cannot provide all of the learning opportunities with internal learning and development resources, so it leverages tuition assistance programs and local colleges and universities to help employees grow. It is showing measurable results in performance.
Organizations can take this to the next level by creating incentives to encourage employees to attend targeted programs that teach competencies and skills that Verizon requires for success. There is some discussion in the case study that Verizon Wireless partners with local colleges to bring degree programs in-house to increase chances of attendance and completion. I assume the degree programs are targets to competencies and skills Verizon Wireless values. Again – bingo!
Does your organization have a tuition assistance program? Is it promoted or hidden deep in the intranet? Are the dollar limits reasonable or so small it would not cover a single class at your local university? Are the tuition assistance program rules flexible enough to allow your people to seek enriching educational opportunities that would benefit both individuals and the organization or so restrictive in what one can take, it is not worth the trouble? Do you hear Ding! Ding! Ding! or Bzzzzzzzzz.
Bill Cushard, Director of Training and Development at Allonhill (link to: http://www.allonhill.com), is a learning leader with more than 12 years experience in training and performance improvement at companies such as E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable.