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Posted February 17, 2021

Think Twice Before Eliminating Employee Education as a Benefit

by Kourtney Gruner

Kourtney GrunerThe COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn are tightening company budgets everywhere. But before distributors cut education programs from benefits packages, they should consider the unique ways that employees who earn advanced degrees in industrial distribution add lasting value to their company.

Professional growth opportunities are a major draw for skilled employees. Conversely, a lack of educational opportunities is a major reason top talent leaves, and most managers don’t feel like they’re being developed to their full potential, according to Gallup.

For ambitious professionals, earning a graduate degree in their field can be a path of deep personal and professional fulfillment that can keep employees on track even during turbulent times. This may seem like a subjective yardstick but offering tuition reimbursement or scholarships as an employee benefit yields substantial results in retention and culture in a time when companies need it most.

Employee Confidence Builds Retention
Sometimes, writing tuition reimbursement off the books after employees graduate is a longer-lasting investment than committing to bonuses year after year that don’t contribute to building expertise and organizational competence.

Considering not every employee is motivated by promotions and job titles alone, supporting those who are looking to build their skills and achieve personal goals is key. Education instills confidence in employees to be able to sit in the room with C-level managers and partake in leadership decisions, adding a unique value to existing positions.

Leaders often feel stuck inside their job descriptions when they don’t have the tools to expand their roles and communicate effectively with other departments. However, employees who undergo a hands-on course curriculum that applies to their daily roles report a deeper engagement to their work.

Education empowers employees to expand their influence within their company by solving new problems through projects and networking with others in their industry. Ultimately, education breeds the kind of curiosity, creativity, and sense of ownership over a position that contributes not only to productivity, but retention over time.

Workplace Improvements
Too often, positive communication and camaraderie in the workplace is undervalued. Going through an education program generates deep appreciation among graduates for the work of their colleagues across departments because they fully understand the value it adds to the company.

When multiple employees go through the same education program, colleagues tend to develop a common language and technical understanding. A mutual trust develops within the culture and coworkers encourage each other’s development within the company.

Graduates become leaders who bridge communication between departments that may otherwise struggle to understand each other. For instance, a technical engineer is not always going to understand the problems salespeople are facing, but those that studied the business from a big picture perspective will be able to translate the needs of both professionals to each other.

Ultimately, employee education holds a powerful potential to invest in areas that can be difficult to strategize for like employee satisfaction and a thriving workplace culture. But professionals who earn advanced degrees in their chosen field bring value back to their companies in leadership and increased productivity.

Kourtney Gruner is the Assistant Director of Student Services and Capstone Coordinator for the Master of Industrial Distribution program at Texas A&M University. Texas A&M’s Master of Industrial Distribution (MID) is a 4-semester, part-time, mobile learning graduate program designed for working professionals. By incorporating both academic professors and industry leaders who co-teach each course, students not only learn theories, but applicable supply chain management, logistics, and profitability of distributors and manufacturers in industrial channels. Contact Mark Lorenzo at for more information about the MID program.


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