Many CEOs, including myself, entered 2023 bracing for a probable recession due to last year’s forecasts that indicated the GDP would contract over two consecutive quarters. Yet, the economy hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down. On a bright note, the looming fears of a possible recession in the U.S. in 2023 have been put to rest, and economists now believe that if the economy shows signs of a slowdown in July 2024, it will not be drastic. Apart from the job losses in the Tech and Financial sectors, the overall labor market and GDP have remained positive despite the inflation, hike in interest rates, and debt ceiling. Additionally, I don’t believe one metric is indicative of a downturn or that we’d know if we’re amid a slowdown until much later when there was consistent data available in multiple realms to indicate so.
Nonetheless, today’s dynamic workforce and economic landscape are indicative of one thing alone – change. Change requires adaptation, survival of the fittest if you will. My experience for the past couple of years has been that all forward-thinking organizations are turning more and more toward education benefits as a strategic tool to retain, re-train, develop, and engage their workforce. In this article, I will highlight how education benefits help you create a well-equipped workforce to weather economic storms.
The influence of technology and the evolving ways in which we work makes certain skills obsolete as new ones become more important. Take AI for example, contrary to popular notions, it’s not AI that’s going to take away jobs, it’s humans who know how to use AI to their advantage that will replace those who do not. Education benefits help companies fill gaps in skills internally, and reduce reliance on external hiring to increase operational efficiency. By enabling employees to acquire in-demand skills, organizations can ensure that their workforce remains competitive and capable of meeting the evolving needs of business.
Education benefits like Tuition Assistance, Student Loan Repayment Assistance, and Scholarships provide employees with the opportunity to pursue further education by bringing down the ticket price of higher education and thereby mitigating financial barriers. By encouraging continuous learning, companies foster a culture of growth and development among their workforce. This commitment to ongoing education ensures that employees stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends, acquire new skills, and remain adaptable in the face of changing market demands.
Education benefits aka Strategic HR benefits play a crucial role in employee retention and engagement and are no longer ‘nice to haves’. These are vital tools that attract, nurture, and retain a high-performing workforce, and are also tied to employee well-being and the organization’s DE&I strategy. When you invest in professional development of your employees, it shows a commitment to their long-term success and promotes loyalty. The American Upskilling study by Amazon and Gallup shows that two-thirds of workers opine that employer-provided upskilling or education benefits are “very” or “extremely” important in joining a new company or staying in the current job. Education benefits, in addition to improved retention rates, also lead to engaged employees who are more likely to be motivated, productive, and committed to their work, even during challenging economic times.
There has always been an emphasis on building a leadership pipeline from within because organizational leaders need to embody the values their organization stands for. Having a robust leadership pipeline during an economic downturn ensures stability in a critical time. Organizations with a pool of capable leaders can make informed decisions, drive innovation, and navigate the challenges of an economic downturn more effectively. By utilizing education benefits to upskill and nurture employees with high potential, organizations can promote talent from within, thereby lowering the cost of hiring and training new talent. This – alone – leads to an ROI of 129% on these programs. Edcor has 200+ preferred school-network partners who offer discounts for advanced management degrees, which can help you build a leadership pipeline.
I’m a strong believer in building competitive advantage to differentiate and stay relevant in a highly competitive business landscape, and to attract and retain top talent. Including education benefits in your benefits portfolio lends it an edge over the competition when scouting in the same talent market. Education benefits or lack thereof have proved to be a deciding factor in prospective employees choosing one employer over the other. Along with attracting high-potential candidates these benefits also signal an organization’s commitment to investing in its workforce. Goes without saying that human capital can either be your biggest strength or your biggest liability. Especially during a downturn, a skilled, resilient, and motivated workforce becomes a competitive advantage, enabling you to adapt, innovate, and emerge stronger compared to your competitors.
To conclude, globally 85 million jobs across 15 industries in 26 economies will be disrupted because of automation by the year 2025. The pandemic, its aftermath, digitalization, and technological advances will have far-reaching effects on the trends of the global economy along with the microeconomics of nations. So, let’s do what is in our control. Let’s gain a competitive edge to comfortably survive and thrive in all seasons – downturn or otherwise. Let’s make our workforce and systems future-proof by investing in them now.
Let’s Future Together!
Adrienne Way, CEO, Edcor
Edcor is a woman-owned business and is the benchmark in education benefits administration. For 42 years, our customized service and solutions have allowed Fortune 1000 Clients to use education benefits programs for employee recruiting, retention, and development. Please feel free to reach out to us!
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