Considering all the recent tech layoffs and the macroeconomic concerns, you might think that all these people who lost their jobs are scrambling to find work.
But you’d be wrong.
The competition for employees is accelerating, which means it’s harder than ever for employers to attract and retain quality talent.
And in today’s war for talent, employees have the upper hand.
To recruit employees in this hot job market, talent attraction mechanisms are far exceeding bigger paychecks and increased vacation time.
Even if these tactics bring workers through the door, it doesn’t necessarily keep them in their seats.
Almost 50% of organizations with a majority blue-collar workforce are finding it difficult to retain workers, an increase of 30% before the pandemic.
Some employers choose a different approach to differentiate themselves from the competition — education and skilling programs with the goal of career mobility.
In this article, we’ll outline:
- Why education benefits are so attractive
- How to design your talent development programs to increase talent attraction and retention
Let's jump in.
Employees are seeking out career mobility opportunities
There is a new social contract between employers and employees, and we’ll give you the recap.
Employees want work with a purpose, pay for today, but more than anything, pathways for tomorrow.
As technology continues to advance and the half-life of skills continues to decrease, workers are more cognizant than ever that ongoing education and skills training will be key to a brighter future, especially for frontline employees in roles that are quickly becoming obsolete.
The promise of career mobility is one of the main pillars of a strong employee value proposition that attracts and retains talent.
- Almost 50% of workers nationally believe they need additional education to advance their careers
- More than 90% of new jobs are being filled by people with a college degree, underscoring the economic mobility that comes with additional education
- 97% of employees say education benefits are an important part of an overall employer benefits package
- 4 out of 5 employees prefer more benefits over a pay raise
So how can you as an employer design and market a stellar education program to stay competitive in a tight talent market?
How to design education benefits that attract and retain talent
There are several best practices to an effective education program, but here are a few that help drive both attraction and retention.
1. A variety of programming
College degrees continue to prove their value in the labor market.
However, credentials, certificates, and apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular as a replacement or supplement to the traditional college pathways.
These emerging education models are stackable, less expensive, and require less time to complete.
The opportunity to achieve continual education retains employees: Short-form programs map directly to in-demand roles and necessary competencies, increasing the likelihood of mobility, and degrees are longer form, incentivizing employees to stay and graduate.
2. Vetted by outcomes
The academic landscape is constantly changing.
Education and skilling programs need to be continually vetted for learner outcomes, like program completion, retention, promotion, and earnings increases.
When education programming is designed with outcomes in mind, workers have the opportunity to redefine career paths, take courses that help them gain skills for their current roles, and stack learnings towards a degree.
3. Learning marketplace for working adults
Working adults have different needs than the traditional college student, like flexible scheduling, an online focus, and wraparound support services.
To attract diverse candidates, include programs focused on serving diverse populations, such as historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), military-friendly organizations, and Hispanic-serving institutions.
4. Dedicated success coaching
Coaching is particularly helpful for employees.
They provide 1:1 career coaching, assistance with program selection and application – and perhaps most importantly – offer emotional support and accountability.
Beyond these fundamentals, some businesses are taking employer-sponsored education a step further and extending educational benefits to families of employees.
In 2022, Waste Management launched a new education program with Guild that funds bachelor’s and associate degrees, as well as a wide range of certificates, for employees starting from day 1 of employment.
But that's not all – Waste Management also offers these scholarships to spouses and children of workers.
“We knew we had to do something radically different to make Waste Management attractive when you have other companies looking for the same type of worker. There is such a war for talent that compensation isn’t a differentiator.” said Tamla Oates-Forney, former Chief People Officer at Waste Management.
“We knew we had to do something radically different to make Waste Management attractive when you have other companies looking for the same type of worker. There is such a war for talent that compensation isn’t a differentiator.”Tamla Oates-Forney, Former Chief People Officer at Waste Management
The results for employers?
There is a ripple effect of this type of education benefit within organizations.
- Attraction: 46% increase in job applicants attributed to a 2021 Chipotle campaign promoting the Guild benefit (2021)
- Evangelism: 86% of employees are more likely to refer someone to work at their employer because of their education benefits¹
- Retention: Learners in Guild's Learning Marketplace were 2.1x less likely to leave their employer in the last 12 months relative to non-engaged employees²
- Halo Effect: For every one enrolled Guild learner, an average of 10 additional employees engage as Guild members in Year 1²
Check out our guide for a more detailed look at how you can make education your competitive advantage.
- Guild Membership Research Survey conducted in September of 2019.
- Guild’s internal data over the last 12 months as of 01.01.2023 from employers who have provided the required data for at least 13 months post launch.