Now that you’ve hired the perfect employees, is educational advancement the way to keep them?
HR teams know that recruiting the best employees is only half the equation. Keeping good employees from moving on to a competitor is the other part. The long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) market is currently in an era of staff shortages, especially for experienced staff who have the specialized skills your organization needs. Experts agree that the latest trend in retention is to offer employees further education benefits.
Unfortunately, HR departments that view their organization’s job positions as the “best on the block” may be living in the past.
The big, undeniable trend: Younger employees aren’t as hesitant to pursue job changes as older generations, and may actually view frequent job changes as a beneficial thing, according to a 2018 survey from Robert Half, a specialized staffing firm. Being aware of this shift in the younger generation’s views on job changes could allow HR directors to consider candidates who might have been previously “red-flagged” in the candidate pile because they were labeled as “job-hoppers.”
Larger companies are moving faster toward a changed view of job-hopping. About 50 percent of companies with more than 1,000 employees now say “a history of frequent job changes isn’t relevant if the candidate is the right fit,” notes the Robert Half article.
“In today’s candidate-short market, keeping key performers engaged should be top of mind for managers,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half in an article about the survey. “Businesses worried about losing talent to the competition should focus on improving corporate culture and strive to be the type of company employees want to stay with long term.”
So, how do you keep your best employees from hopping to a competitor? One of the new answers is offering education benefits.
Some larger healthcare organizations are already paving the way. Health insurer Aetna began a new program to invest in its own employees, offering education as a creative benefit that assisted both the employee and the employer. The program officially began in 2015 with tuition reimbursements of 80 percent against a maximum of $3,000, but the successful program now has expanded to 100 percent of tuition against a $5,000 maximum, notes an article in HR Executive.
“Education is a powerful vehicle to help employees advance their career,” said Kay Mooney, vice president of employee benefits and well-being at Aetna, during a presentation at the 2018 Health Benefits and Leadership Conference held in Las Vegas. “If, five to 10 years down the road, our employees are still only earning $16 an hour, we’ve failed them.”
In 2017, Aetna began a new program to assist employees with educational loan repayment so they might seek further degrees and certification. “When we think about it, if an employee struggles with financial stress, that impacts the quality of their work,” Mooney said at the event. “If employees are healthy and happy, they’re more productive and engaged and can better focus on our customers. It helps them, and it helps us — it’s win-win.”
If your organization seems ready to explore educational support, first determine the concept buy-in rate through an informal survey of current employees: How many would jump at the chance for a 50 percent tuition reimbursement? What about a 30 percent reimbursement? Be sure to survey full-time employees and hourly employees, since both position levels are crucial in LTPAC settings. Approach the executive team and start a conversation about launching an educational program. The employees you keep may be your own.