12 Ways to Handle Your Employees' Educational Stipend | Startups.com

Twelve industry experts share their tips for being smart about educational stipends for employees.

January 22nd, 2016   |    By: Young Entrepreneur Council    |    Tags: Recruiting

Question: If you have an educational stipend for your startup employees, how do you decide what your company should pay for and what they should pay for out of pocket?

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. 

Employee Educational Stipend

See if It Benefits the Client

We’ve chosen to pay for any continuing education, no maximum, that adds immediate value to our client roster. If it’s a service or skill set that will improve our client’s experience with our company, expand our service set or improve the quality of the campaigns we run, then it is quickly approved. We also provide a free book library of management and self-development for all employees.

Faithe Parker
Marbaloo Marketing

Have Employees Learn the Local Language

When our employees move here to Berlin, they find a place where English is widely spoken at a casual level. Indeed, German is not compulsory requirement to join our team. But, to truly understand our city’s identity, culture and the way it operates, it’s great to start learning the language. We want our employees to properly integrate here, so German class is something we will always pay for.

Marvin Amberg

Invite Speakers

We bring speakers and educators into the studio to host workshops and classes for the entire team. We’ve always found it to be a great investment. Beyond that, we offer a no-questions-asked $400 annual educational stipend to cover events, books, etc. that a team member finds inspiring. We also cover a majority of education expenses if the curriculum is in-line with their career here at The Engine.

Chris Denny
The Engine is Red

Have Both Parties Financially Accountable

When an employee wanted to enroll in a $3,000 class to make themselves more valuable to the company, we elected to have the company cover two-thirds of the class fee. This shows appreciation and encouragement to the employee while still upholding enough personal financial investment to make sure the class is being taken seriously.

Zach Binder

Sign a Contract With the Employee

When looking at stipends for education, you want to look at how the education is going to benefit the business. If it’s a direct benefit, then it’s something that I’m willing to pay for, with a contract from the employee to continue with the company after graduation. If I think that it only might benefit the business, I will weigh the pros and cons and potentially offer to pay a portion.

Matt Doyle
Excel Builders

Take Advantage of Free Classes

There are a lot of free educational resources out there. Paying employees a rate for the time they spend on continuing education is a really affordable way to encourage employees to learn more about what’s out there and pick up new skills. Resourceful employees will source out thought leaders in the space they intend to enter and pick their brain as well. Skillshare and Udemy are great options.

Adam Steele
The Magistrate

Trust Your Employees to Make Decisions

As a founder, you have better things to worry about than managing your employee’s education stipend. If you believe in outside-of-office learning, set a budget for your team and allow your employees to make their own decisions. If you’ve done a good job of providing context as to what you want to see out of the employee for the next six to 12 months, they should be able to figure out the rest.

Fan Bi
Blank Label

Be Cautious

Oftentimes, building equity in an employee can backfire as you make them more valuable to competitors. Be cautious about educating employees who haven’t proven themselves to be loyal to your company. Incentivize them to remain with you, and hire intelligently to bring on new team members that have the skills you require in specific roles.

Blair Thomas

Make the Most of Your Budget

As conferences sometimes fall under the category of educational stipends, finding opportunities that feature both industry thought leaders and topics relevant to a number of employees can provide knowledge while bringing your team closer together. Taking care of food, travel and lodging during these experiences can be costly, but building relationships within the team is worth the investment.

Robert Lee
Circa Interactive Inc

Hold Employees Accountable

Let the employees know that they have the freedom to find the classes that best suit their role. Give them their budget and the responsibility to manage it, but hold them accountable by having them complete a short form on the event when they return and give a short presentation on what they learned at a staff meeting. This will allow you to incorporate the data and create a plan for future employees.

Aron Schoenfeld
TanZ Group

Incentivize Acing the Course

Investing in your employees to build their hard skills helps your short-term goals as well as their long-term career path. It’s always a good bet to invest in your employees. The reciprocity will have exponential benefits. Offer 50 percent of the course cost upfront and 50 percent if they ace the course. That way, you know its something they are passionate about and have skin in the game.

Tim Ray
Carnivore Club

Have a List of Approved Sources

When it comes to personal development for your team, the source of the information they are learning from is of utmost importance. There is a lot of personal development information flying around out there on the Internet. Figure out the sources and experts who create the most value for your particular business, and create a list of approved programs, books and resources that you will subsidize.

Richard Lorenzen

About the Author

Young Entrepreneur Council

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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