Making a Case For Tuition Reimbursement and Flexible Hours
Folks who have been in the industry longer will tell us one thing: the landscape has changed, and it is a big change. Gone are the days when you got hired after college and you were certain that you were going retire with that employer if you chose to. These days, it is possible to change careers several times in one year and many times in your career.
At some point, you may realize that the skills that you brought out of college are no longer needed or inadequate to meet the ever-changing demands at the workplace. At other times, all you may need is a different challenge. All these situations may require you to go back to school or take some additional courses to make your position more secured or just for personal fulfillment.
Whatever the case may be, it may be necessary to seek the support of your current employer to pursue your news goals. This support may come in the form of flexible work hours or tuition reimbursement. Even in these tough economic times, most employers have provision set aside for employees who may want to pursue additional skills. Unfortunately, most employees, especially immigrants, may not be aware of this benefit. Getting the necessary information and writing up a business case for the proposed study is vital in securing such assistance. In this article, I will discuss the steps you need to write a strong business case for flexible work hours or tuition re-reimbursement.
1. Get the necessary information and resources. In this IT age, it is very likely that if your employer has such a policy, it will be available in your human resources website. Review the tuition reimbursement or educational policies carefully and determine where your request falls. Your request may fortuitously fall within the companies requirements. In other cases, it may require an exception in handling. Whichever case it is, continue to make some informal inquiries to your manager or human resources partner to discuss your interests and seek their input and direction. Remember that selling your vision to get your manager’s buy in is a big step forward.
2. Determine the approval process or hierarchy. Is it your manager or the Vice President, or Director etc who will have to sign off finally, and in what order does the approval process progress? Some companies may require that your manager approves the case before you can submit it for final approval.
3. Equip yourself with necessary information on financial and educational details about your specific reimbursement request such as the name of the university or institution, course titles, course start and end dates and tuition fees.
4. Now the core of your request:
• Write the introduction to your business case. This is a summary of what you are requesting, why you are requesting it, the benefits to the organization and the fees and/or resource you will need. It is vital that your introduction is compelling; generate interest, so that the rest of your document is looked upon favorably.
• The Body: Describe your tuition request in detail. Provide information about the program, the university and the specific courses. Describe the costs and resource requirements involved. Specify whether you need financial assistance or flexible schedule or both.
• Describe the return on investment. What benefits will your employer reap from the investment in you? This is called return on investment (ROI). Indicate how the course or program will improve your work performance and benefit the employer. Make sure your points are time-based, specific and measurable. For instance, if takes you Y hours to accomplish assignment X but you believe participation in your intended program will equip you to do the same amount of work in Y/2 hours and save the company $Z.00, then make this case.
5. Propose that if the request above cannot be fulfilled in the current form, you will be happy to meet with them personally to suggest alternative solutions. If such a need arises, you may propose an option that includes fewer courses or requests partial reimbursement. Hei, half a loaf is better than no bread.
6. Finally end by asking for approval of your business case. Give your managers desired timelines (that’s when you expect to hear from them or when you intend to follow-up if you have not receive a response). Thank the reader for considering your application and the time taken to read you request.
7. Submit a copy of the business case to the appropriate approver(s). Keep a copy for yourself.
8. If by the timeline provided above you have not received a response, stay true to your word and do a follow-up: an email, telephone call, face to face meeting, whichever is appropriate.
In any case, do not stand still and do not be content with what you have. As Jimmy Carter once said:
“I hate to see complacency prevail in our lives when it’s so directly contrary to the teaching of Christ”