Why Most Education Benefits Programs Go Unused

It’s an all to familiar story: your organization has an amazing benefits package to get employees back to school. It’s good for you and it’s good for them, providing upward mobility and breaks on ever-growing tuition bills for employees as well as tax breaks and incentives for employers. And in spite of the allure, these benefits are sitting around and gobbling up resources with very few new enrollments. Why?

For employers and employees to cash in on the dividends from the investment made in these programs, there needs to be a critical mass of participation. Here are a few reasons why companies aren’t seeing the ROI from their education benefits.

1. Not Enough Employees Participate

To be eligible for tuition reimbursements or supplemental income to pay for educational expenses, many companies require that you meet specific qualifications. Minimum grade point average, specified degree paths, and attending partner institutions are just a few examples. And while there is a time and place for such qualifiers to help employers ensure that they too will benefit from an employees’ participation, it can exclude a large population of potential enrollees from participating. The narrower the program allowance, the fewer people will qualify.

For organizations that are cherry picking career paths to be the beneficiaries of educational benefits programs and scratching their heads when no one signs up, there is a solution: open the doors a little wider. You may be surprised what talents will develop under your roof in areas where you weren’t aware of having personnel deficits.

2. This is a Company Service, So Why Isn’t it Being Promoted Internally

Too often, companies are most focused on how they are spending resources to project their products and mission outward. It’s easy to forget that just as much care and attention needs to be paid to how the inner workings of an organization are being communicated with.

Education benefits are a service offered to a specific market: your workforce. Treat these programs more like the product they are and spend time and energy marketing them. Most employees lead busy lives. Going back to school is a difficult hurdle to jump over if there is family and personal lives involved. These programs, popular as they are, need to be promoted vigorously to create enough interest to see continued enrollment.

3. Keep Track of Those Numbers

One of the biggest recurring mistakes that companies make in administering their education benefits program is collecting insufficient data on their outreach and enrollment. At first glance, something like what department an enrollee comes from or how many employees opened an email discussing their benefits can seem trivial. But these data points make a huge different when it comes time to sit down for a strategic meeting and make decisions about how to approach benefits administration.

Making sure that there is a designated HR employee to take on the project of tracking and reporting these simple numbers gives insight into where the program can improve. And if your HR department is already playing constant catch up, there are third-party organizations that can help to hone your strategy for keeping education benefits relevant.

4. Keep it Simple

By far the number one mistake that most employers make regarding their education benefits program is not finding a simple way to explain the process of enrolling, getting reimbursed, and reaping the rewards.

While it is true that these can be complicated processes with layers of paperwork, reimbursement submissions, and coordination, the introduction to an education benefits doesn’t need to be. Start by evaluating the simplest way to get people involved in only a few easy steps. Once there are employees lining up to learn more, you can begin to ease them into the finer details.

ClearDegree partners with companies to tailor tuition assistance programs (TAP) for employees to increase completion of higher degrees, align courses of study with mission critical company goals, and promote these programs to your workforce. We represent a smarter way to invest in education benefits programs. Our education concierge services are an asset to both HR and the individual employee.  Contact us for more information about ClearDegree and start to realize the ROI from tuition assistance programs.