One of the most popular programs for putting more money in workers’ pockets is through educational reimbursement programs, in which companies actually pay you to go back to school. Approximately 86% of employers offer a tuition assistance program in some capacity, according to employee benefit company EdAssist, spending approximately $21.9 billion a year to keep key talent.
The programs can be a huge boost to employee morale, with 87% of employees who participated in the Tuition Assistance Value Study saying tuition assistance not only made them happier, it also increased job satisfaction and quality of life. And in a win for employers, happier people tend to get more done: According to a study conducted by the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, happier people are 12% more productive.
A note of caution: If you do decide to go back to school on the company dime, make sure you’re not on the hook for extra costs you can’t afford. “Some employers only pay for certain grades or schools,” Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster said in a phone interview. “Make sure you completely understand how much will be reimbursed, which classes are covered and all the details involved in your employer’s program.” You may have to prove you completed a course in order to get reimbursed for it, so keep good records.
To find out which companies have both the happiest workers along with a solid tuition reimbursement plan, Mic screened the seventh annual CareerBliss 50 Happiest Companies in America survey for firms that do just that.
Here are seven standouts:
Rank on CareerBliss: 11
Average salary: $60,809
Health insurance company Cigna provides up to $10,000 annually to reimburse employees pursuing a bachelor’s degree and $12,000 a year for those getting a master’s degree, the Lumina Foundation reports. That investment has paid off big time: “Program participants are 10% more likely to be promoted, 7.5% more likely to be transferred within Cigna, and 8% more likely to stay at the company, reducing across-the-board talent management and recruiting costs,” according to Lumina.
Rank on CareerBliss: 9
Average salary: $57,471
Blue-chip energy firm Chevron pays up to 75% of the cost of tuition, textbooks, lab fees, registration charges and administration fees for “approved courses.” As one employee wrote on Glassdoor, the courses must be “somewhat related to your position or career development plans” in order to be reimbursed.
5. PNC Financial Services
Rank on CareerBliss: 7
Average salary: $69,714
PNC offers up to $5,250 a year for business-related undergraduate or graduate classes or degree programs. The amount reimbursed depends on your grade. What’s the catch? According to employees who rated the benefit on Glassdoor, you have to pay back part of the money if you leave the company less than two years after you receive the funds.
4. Adobe Systems
Rank on CareerBliss: 6
Average salary: $74,008
Adobe reimburses up to $10,000 per year for approved courses and certification programs for both full-time and part-time workers who are employed both at the beginning and ending of the course. In order to be reimbursed, employees must first get approval from their manager, then present proof of payment for courses along with their grade report. If you fail a course, you won’t get reimbursed for it, so make sure to do your homework!
3. Total Quality Logistics
Rank on CareerBliss: 5
Average salary: $69,142
This freight brokerage company headquartered in Cincinnati covers up to 80% (up to $5,000 annually) for outside educational programs that enhance and develop knowledge the employee can apply to their job. Reimbursement level is based on grades and you won’t get anything if you earn less than a C. Employees must have “completed one year of service, are in good standing, and are performing at an above average level are eligible for this benefit.”
Rank on CareerBliss: 4
Average salary: $85,000
Visa offers 100% reimbursement (up to $5,250 annually) for classes related to an employee’s job or career path. To get the funds, employees must work full time, get pre-approval from their manager and the Visa human resources department. Tuition and books are covered, but you’re on the hook for everything else — including registration fees and additional supplies. Classes in the arts, nursing and training to be a pilot are specifically excluded, along with several other course areas.
1. Bristol-Myers Squibb
Rank on CareerBliss: 1
Average salary: $97,250
Biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb covers up to 75% of approved courses that also align with the company’s mission to “discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.” Employees who either complete 1,000 hours of work or are employed for one year are eligible for this benefit.
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