by Selena Dehne
Many employees are well aware that their current employers offer educational benefits, such as tuition reimbursement for work-related courses. In fact, at least half of all American workers get some sort of educational benefit from their jobs, according to an article in U.S. News & World Report.
What many employees don’t know is how to pursue these opportunities—or justify them to employers—during economic downturn. Times are tough. Employers are recession-weary. And many organizations are struggling to stay afloat—let alone afford unexpected, extra expenses. As a result, it can feel more uncomfortable than ever to approach an employer about paying for additional education.
“Regardless of the economy, additional training can lead to important win-win results for both you and your company. Even if your education funding proposal is rejected, your employer will still take note of your interest in advancing yourself, and that can pay off down the line, if not right away,” says Katy Piotrowski, author of The Career Coward’s Guide to Career Advancement.
To considerately and effectively approach employers about their financial support for your continued education, Piotrowski recommends the following strategies:
1. Lead with your employer’s interests
Ask, “In what areas would you like to see the team develop their expertise this year?” Listen carefully about the skills your boss is looking to add to the team’s toolbox. Then, as you evaluate training programs, aim to incorporate your employer’s needs into courses that will also help you achieve your personal career training goals.
2. Provide hard data about how your improved education will result in increased productivity and opportunities
Acquiring just one new technique can result in thousands of dollars in savings or additional revenue for the company. Contact the class or program instructors for ideas about how your training may ultimately benefit your employer’s profitability, and incorporate this info into your proposal.
3. Guarantee a good grade
Many businesses won’t cover employee education costs unless they receive a “B” grade or higher. Offer a similar guarantee to your employer to prove that you’re serious about success in the classroom.
4. Promise to stick around for a set period of time
One primary objection employers have to paying for education is that team members leave shortly after earning their degrees. Discuss plans for remaining a key player for the long-term to help both yourself and the company achieve win-win results.
5. Offer to split the cost
Times are tight, especially now. If you encounter objections about a weak bottom line, suggest that you split the cost 50/50. Some educational subsidy is better than none at all—especially if you improve yourself in the process.