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.
Intangible benefits can include things like flex time, telecommuting, and a casual dress code. These relate largely to the type of business you’re operating, your company culture and the kinds of employees you want to attract. Most of these will cost you nothing but should still provide some mutual benefit for you and your employees.
Tangible benefits, on the other hand, will cost you and are viewed as an investment in your workforce and ultimately, in the business. You need to choose them carefully and calculate the return, whether it’s health insurance or a retirement plan. And be aware that where there are federal/IRS requirements for programs; they must be administered according to detailed rules and regs.
There’s another tangible benefit that can be mutually rewarding for your business and your employees: Tuition reimbursement. Often associated more with large companies, tuition reimbursement has gained favor among small businesses seeking a competitive edge as well as an effective tool for employee acquisition and retention. There are huge plusses but some potential drawbacks and pitfalls, too. Tuition reimbursement is not for every business.
Smallbusiness.chron.com offers three key factors to weigh in considering whether to offer tuition reimbursement:
How you provide tuition reimbursement, including the details and requirements of your program, are critical. Check out bankrate.com’s The ABCs of Tuition Reimbursement for some great observations and insights. First and foremost, never lose sight of the fact that when offering tuition reimbursement, you are making an important and long-term investment, in them and in your business. As with any investment, you want to get a return and to be able to quantify it whenever possible. Employment experts agree that paying for your employees’ tuition is, hands down, more cost-efficient than in dealing with the disruption of turnover and constantly having to hire new employees.
Getting maximum return on your investment means structuring your program with some clear parameters. Few companies offer open-ended tuition reimbursement; there are always strings attached, for good reason. Among the most common:
Tuition reimbursement is a fantastic way to improve your business performance, sharpen your competitive edge and recruit and retain the best employees. Hire a benefits consultant to ensure that your program is structured to meet your specific needs for maximum benefit. By all means, spell out even the small details of the program in writing and have this regularly reviewed by your attorney. And don’t forget to showcase your tuition reimbursement program in your recruitment materials and in your onboarding process for new hires.
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