Benefits

Verizon Wireless Gets a Strong Signal on Tuition Reimbursement

By Garry Kranz

Oct. 25, 2010

Verizon Wireless knows it is getting its money’s worth when it comes to tuition reimbursements.tuition reimbursement

The telecommunications giant based in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, has measured the business impact of tuition assistance on a quarterly basis for nearly six years. The company compares retention rates of employees who participate in a tuition-assistance program against other groups of workers.

“We have reduced our turnover to the extent that the savings we realize pays for the expense” of paying for tuition, program manager Dorothy Martin says. Martin declines to specify exact savings, but says the training benefit is popular with the company’s 82,000 workers. Each year, roughly 20 percent take advantage of the program, dubbed LearningLink, to pursue college degrees, industry certifications and other career-related courses.

Full-time employees at Verizon Wireless are eligible to receive up to $8,000 annually for tuition and textbooks. Part-time employees working at least 20 hours a week qualify for up to $4,000 a year. The tuition funds are available to employees either as a prepaid or reimbursement option.

In measuring the bottom-line impact of its tuition assistance program, Verizon Wireless stands out: most companies do not track the effectiveness of tuition reimbursement benefits.

“We have four goals: to attract motivated employees, keep them engaged and committed, give them opportunities to apply what they learn, and to develop a pipeline of new leaders,” Martin says.

About 600 Verizon Wireless employees are pursuing college courses in 2010, Martin says. That’s in addition to about 700 who completed degree programs a year ago. The company also is helping 45 employees pay to finish their doctorates.

Verizon Wireless does not require a minimum service commitment from graduates. The lenient policy reflects the program’s success in retaining top performers, Martin says. Again, she can point to data: “Whether out of loyalty or to advance their careers, the majority of them stay with us.”

Workforce Management Online, October 2010Register Now!

Garry Kranz is a Workforce contributing editor.

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