Amazon.com’s announcement this week that it will pre-pay up to 95 percent of its employees’ education costs is a prime example of how successful companies understand that reinforcing company loyalty by offering strong employee incentives will ultimately lead to more success and profits.
Amazon’s “Career Choice Program” is designed to give employees who have worked at the company’s fulfillment centers for at least three years a chance to better their career opportunities whether at Amazon or in another industry. Amazon says in a news release announcing the plan that it will fund education in areas that are “well-paying and in high demand according to sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.”
Amazon has always paid attention to what matters to its employees, and the result has been tremendous financial success for the company. The Career Choice Program is yet another example. Today’s workers, especially the Gen Xers and Millennials, want new opportunities to test out and develop their skills, they want challenges, they want the excitement of new information and knowledge. Companies should offer employees training, classes and opportunities to learn and grow in their careers: Let your employees know how valuable they are by investing in their ability to either do their job better or further their career whether within or without the company.
Another example of how Amazon values what is of value to their employees is Amazon’s commitment to worker safety, which has made working at its fulfillment centers statistically safer than working at department stores. Dedication to worker safety is something that matters tremendously to employees, yet which companies fail to see as such. When you show your employees that you care about them in this fashion, your employees care about you—and your profits will reflect that. The upshot? Amazon workers at their fulfillment centers are so productive, that Amazon can afford to pay them 30 percent more than workers at retail stores.
Not every company has the financial means to make such a generous educational offer as Amazon. Get creative. Lots of affordable training can be provided on-line for far less cost than in-person training. Whether it’s on-line or live seminars, mentoring programs or audio conferences, employees want to be given the time and means to pursue such training. When a company fails to invest in their employees, employees are quick to go elsewhere or simply fall into the ranks of the disaffected and disengaged. These employees may still be physically present, but they contribute next to nothing to your productivity and profits. Invest in your employees’ success, they will invest in yours.