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Verizon Wireless: Getting ROI From TAP

 -  12/10/07

Tuition-assistance programs (TAPs) are usually viewed as an employee benefit, but companies can benefit from TAPs too.

When Bonnie first came to work at Verizon Wireless, her manager was impressed with her enthusiasm on the job but thought that she lacked business experience. She noted, “Bonnie would often make decisions based on how she felt about someone or something, rather than seeing the bigger picture.”

Yet, after taking advantage of the LearningLINK tuition assistance program at Verizon Wireless to take some business classes, the manager noticed a change: “Bonnie began to use her newly learned critical thinking skills to think outside of herself and make decisions based on business impact.” Bonnie’s work performance — and contributions to the company — improved so much that she has now assumed an acting supervisor role.
Bonnie’s story is not unusual — at least not at Verizon Wireless, which has taken concrete steps to ensure LearningLINK helps the company as much as it does the individual employee.

This may come as a surprise to some learning and HR professionals. Unlike company-sponsored training, tuition-assistance programs (TAPs) are usually viewed as little more than an employee benefit — a benefit that gives workers the opportunity to earn degrees and credentials that make them more valuable in the labor market. But if done right, companies can benefit from TAPs too.

Measuring the Benefits
Dorothy Martin, the national program manager for LearningLINK at Verizon, offered an explanation of the advantages of TAPs. “For years, I had been hearing from individual LearningLINK participants and from supervisors about the ways in which participants had become better employees,” she said. “Not only were they more committed to the company, but they had greater skills and knowledge that allowed them to contribute to the company in new ways.”

Recently, Martin has quantified these results. Through the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning’s (CAEL) Tuition Assistance Management Service (TAMS), Martin obtains monthly reports on program participation. By linking this data with employee data and data obtained from surveys of the LearningLINK participants and their supervisors, Martin examined business impact in four key areas: recruitment, retention, career mobility and job performance.

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