Employees going to college? Help with tuition, career path

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in Hiring,Human Resources

by Janice Caron

It's back-to-school time, and not just for children. Many of your employees—and would-be employees—will enroll in college classes this fall.

And while those courses will make employees more competent and promotion-worthy, they'll also wreak havoc on their schedules, both at work and at home.

Advice: Institute policies that lend a hand to full-time employees who embark on part-time college careers. Those overtures will help in recruiting and retention. Here are seven ideas:

1. Switch to a paid-time-off bank, rather than separate sick days and vacation days. That makes it easier for employees to use leave for school deadlines and internships.

2. Offer a relevant internship, such as a weeklong stint in a department that does work the student is learning about in school.

3. Allow employee-students to use company computers for course work after hours.

4. Help pay employees' tuition. Offer the money at the beginning of the semester rather than as a reimbursement, so the employee doesn't incur any student debt.

5. Tie the tuition benefit to a minimum "C" grade for an undergraduate and "B" for a graduate student. Requiring the student to maintain an "A" average while working full time is unrealistic. (Limit tuition assistance to one course per semester.)

6. Trade tuition assistance for retention. Require students to remain with the company for six months to two years after taking a company-financed course. Also, require a specific grade average to earn the benefit.

7. Place employees on career paths, so they know what they need to do and learn to earn their promotions.

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Janice Caron is chair of Counselor Education Programs at Capella University in Minnesota. Contact her at caronj@earthlink.net.

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