According to CNBC, in June of 2015 there were more than 4.5 million job openings and more than 9 million unemployed Americans, but often, the jobs go unfilled because of a skill gap. Across America, more than half of employers say they can’t fill open jobs because they can’t find qualified workers.
Then we look at Starbucks, a company who began paying for its employees, part-time and full-time, to get a college bachelor’s degree. The students must enroll in the Arizona State University online degree program, but can have any major they desire, whether it has to do with Starbucks or not.
In just nine months, more than 4,000 students have enrolled in the program and 44 have already graduated. Another effect of the program? Starbucks has received more job applications than ever before. Not only do people want to work as baristas, but people are applying for corporate positions as well. They’ve also seen their workers stay put longer.
The best effect of the program? Brand loyalty strengthening across the nation. Sure, Starbucks isn’t the cheapest place to get your cup of coffee, but they’ve created standards to be environmentally friendly, treat customers well, and treat employees even better. This trifecta has put them in the top spot for brand loyalty.
What is the correlation here?
Typically, a company that invests in its employees will more than earn back their investment, in big ways. First, they are training their employees for the workforce – all parts of it. It doesn’t matter to Starbucks if their employee graduates with their reimbursed degree and quits their barista job the next day. They are getting an education to better themselves and become useful parts of the workforce.
It is also a lesson in how treating your employees well will help your business. Employees who feel valued are more likely to stay in their jobs, leading to reduced turnover. Additionally, more people will want to work for your company, helping you to attract more of the best candidates. It also increases brand loyalty from customers, who are happy to see that your employees are happy. When you do good, people want to buy from you rather than your competitor who has a less great reputation.
What does this mean for your business?
It’s not feasible for every company, or even most companies, to send all of their employees to college. However, there are little ways to invest in your employees that make a huge difference. Whether it be a gym in your office or gym membership reimbursement, sending your HR staff to a conference for credit or even just blocking off time on your team’s schedule to watch an inspiring TED Talk.
Giving your staff learning opportunities is the way to kill the skills gap, and is a great investment in your own business. You can stay ahead of competitors with your new cutting-edge knowledge, increase retention and increase brand loyalty. If that doesn’t sound like a great payoff, I don’t know what is.