5 Ways Higher Education Benefits Retail Company Culture

Do island vacations, retention bonuses, hip restrooms and corporate bosses really create a good corporate culture? When distribution companies try to transform their organizational culture using only fleeting benefits, they often don’t see the lasting gain they seek. Indeed, creating a great company culture requires strategic planning for the future and a holistic appreciation of your employees.

To change corporate culture for the better, sponsoring employees to pursue higher education through tuition reimbursement is one of the most genuine investments in corporate culture that distribution companies can do.

In a survey of more than 2,000 professionals across 16 industries, Hays found that 47% of job seekers quit their job because of company culture. Their study reveals that focusing on training and development should be a priority for companies and that the benefits and advantages do not stand up to a culture of open communication, strong leadership and company values.

Here are five ways higher education sponsorship benefits the culture of your distribution company:

1. Promotes mutual commitment

If a retention bonus looks like a contract, sponsoring employees’ higher education looks like a commitment. Tuition, especially for an industry-specific program, quantifies your investment in your staff more significantly than writing a check. It communicates that employee value and expertise is recognized as an important part of the company’s future.

It’s hard to build a company culture with high employee turnover, and with millennials changing jobs more frequently than previous generations, it’s a company’s responsibility to attract and retain quality professionals by creating opportunities for growth.

Higher education programs, especially those that specialize in industry, allow students to return to business with projects that can solve problems immediately. Distribution companies that implement such projects see not only a return on investment in results, but also increased engagement among their graduating employees. Graduates return to the workplace with a greater sense of purpose and ownership of their work. This reinforces their commitment to the company.

2. Allows Professional Autonomy

There are few things that are worse for the company culture than employees who feel stuck and retarded professionally. Investing in higher education allows employees to change the scenery of their day-to-day roles, whether they have goals to grow in the company or even if they want to move laterally between different departments or understand the company more depth.

After completing an Honors Masters, students return to their workplace with a more defined sense of their industry, role and interests within it. Many choose to pursue leadership positions with their newly honed skills while others create their own positions or excel in their existing positions by being able to communicate better across departments.

Many students report increased confidence in the workplace due to a better understanding of the big picture.

3. Encourages engagement

Curiosity and problem solving cannot be manufactured, but they can be inspired. Sponsoring staff to obtain a higher education positions them to form new relationships within the industry and come back with new ideas and refined critical thinking skills. Graduates come back with fresh initiative when problems arise and begin to naturally lead and teach their teammates.

Specialized higher education programs that allow students to develop projects for immediate application in the workplace also invite students’ colleagues to help lead these projects, creating new opportunities for collaboration. Graduates see how to bridge communication gaps between different departments and often become invaluable problem solvers, initiating cohesion with new and better company-wide systems.

Deep engagement, in turn, creates more loyalty and trust between the distribution company and employees while delivering tangible returns to the business. Graduates report increased personal growth by being part of the conversation and being able to communicate with C-level executives with confidence.

4. Builds trust in times of transition

When it becomes part of a company’s culture to sponsor employees through an industry-specific higher education program, employees adopt the same language and critical thinking patterns because of the common language and knowledge acquired through their common educational activities. As a result, a unique level of appreciation and camaraderie organically develops around problem solving and communication.

Graduates report an increased ability to respond as a team in times of crisis and transition as one of the main benefits of several employees who have obtained the same specialized degree. A common technical understanding begins to develop in the workplace and becomes its own kind of retention tool as colleagues, even from different departments, understand each other better.

5. Develops leadership

When employees graduate from college, they become leaders within the company. Whether they are officially promoted to leadership positions or take more initiative in their current role, their gains in knowledge and confidence have a double effect within the company.

First, this leadership results in more streamlined and efficient systems and processes that often improve hiring and procedural efforts. Second, emerging leaders are newly invested in their revised roles, increasing employee longevity indicators.

Before long, graduates will be referring their younger colleagues in distribution to the program for information to fill their former positions and so the role of higher education within your company will become a self-sustaining ecosystem of positivity, curiosity and innovation. ‘commitment.

Imagine a workplace where employees feel their skills are valuable to the immediate success of the business — staff who feel invested and worthy; contested, but not exploited; engaged, but not exhausted. You can offer meal plans, island vacations, and ping pong tables, but those momentary incentives will never create the kind of deep fulfillment that many employees seek. By sponsoring higher education, employees are equipped to perform at their best every day, are motivated to bring learned skills and apply them within the company, and by default these things help companies to build an authentic and sustainable work culture.

Kourtney Gruner, M.Ed., is assistant director of student services and coordinator of the master’s program in industrial distribution at Texas A&M University. She is also a doctoral student in higher education administration at Texas A&M University. Contact Marc Lorenzo at mark.lorenzo@tamu.edu for more information on the MID program.