"employee benefits"

Wed 10 August 2022
Management is often a position of mentorship in addition to leadership. One important aspect of mentorship is education, and consequently, many companies are willing to sponsor some form of education or professional development for their employees. After all, better employees equate to better profitability and efficiency

                However, it often comes as an unpleasant surprise that the professional development budgets are often frequently underutilized, or even worse, unused. What makes it even worse is that some of your direct reports don’t even know what they have access to. In a survey by Guardian in 2017, only 49% of employees could accurately recite what benefits they selected.  Thus, you might ask, “How can we get our direct reports to make use of the corporate education advantages?” The answer is far easier than you might think.

What is Corporate Education Sponsorship?

                Corporate Education Sponsorships are a phenomenon in which a Direct Report chooses to participate in further education or certification at the company’s expense. According to Statista, 47% of companies offer this in some aspect, and an additional 8% offer student loan repayment.

                Most companies actually prefer this over formal training and talent development programs, due to many inherent benefits of sponsorship.

Why should you offer Corporate Sponsorships to your Direct Reports?

                These sponsorships allow you as a manager to set up the best possible employee workforce that you could ever ask for. Sponsorship works as a development program, an engagement system, and even a recruiting incentive. 

                Think about it from your employees’ perspectives, and you can easily see how this would be an amazing recruiting opportunity. Not only would an employee have the potential to get a degree, thus expanding their skills, but would also be able to move up in the company ladder, and consequently get more pay.

                From a managerial perspective, you receive just as many benefits. First of all, at the end of the day, you will have better educated and more skilled employees. This alone balances out the cost of the programs. According to Human Capital Theory by Dr. Arnaud Chevalier and Gary Becker, higher education increases productivity. 

                Also, you will have loyalty from your direct reports. If a company were to pay for your education, and their only condition is for you to stay and work for them for a certain amount of time, you’d definitely buy into the company culture a little more than before. 

                An even better perk for your company is that you can often claim tax breaks, credits, or deductions. The IRS has been pushing for companies to fund employee education, and if a company meets certain guidelines regarding education, they have some options available to them regarding taxes.   

                On a more personal note, I was able to benefit from Company Education Sponsorships, and it completely changed my life as I serve as a paramedic.

                A Paramedic, or even an EMT Certification costs thousands of dollars, and as an individual barely out of high school, I had no way of easily affording this. However, a local rescue squad offered to fund this in exchange for me working with them for at least 6 months. I was able to pursue my certification, which I had originally planned to defer for a couple years, and consequently, was able to make my dream come true much earlier than anticipated. I went on hundreds of calls, some of which included lifesaving measures, along with medical evacuation, and was often the only Paramedic on duty at times. I was able to give back to the squad that paid for me to receive this advantage, while still benefitting.

How should you offer these Company Advantages?

                There are generally two different ways that Corporate Education Advantages operate. The first method is through reimbursement. This means that your direct reports will undergo their certification or education, and then upon completion, your company then compensates them for the cost of their education.

                Alternatively, your company could sponsor a direct report’s education, paying for it from the point of enrollment. This is often paired with a contractual requirement for the direct report to finish their coursework or risk having to pay back the cost of the degree or certification.  

                Regardless of the method, most companies also require a minimum amount of time served at the company after receiving a sponsorship or reimbursement.              

What Advantages should you sponsor?

                Typically, companies can sponsor a variety of degrees, certifications, or programs. The main consideration is that it is a relevant field to that of your industry. Here are some of the most common sponsorship targets:

·         GED- Some employees may have had extenuating circumstances while they were in high school and were forced to drop out. A GED can completely change their life.
·         Bachelor’s Degree- Undergraduate education can often have a fiscal barrier, which some individuals might not be in the best financial status to pursue.
·         Master’s Degree- Postgraduate degrees are often pursued only after experience in the workforce. Sponsoring this and combining it with a work agreement can result in an extremely valuable employee
·         CPA- This one is only common within the accounting field but is frequently sponsored. 
·         PhD- Sponsoring these is much rarer, and it is only really common to have a PhD program sponsored within the clinical or scientific fields. 
·         People Leader Certifications - This type of certification is a much newer innovation and provides quality education and experience for a fraction of the price of an MBA. While these certifications are often offered by educational institutions, companies such as Ambition In Motion have pioneered their own versions of this, such as the AIM Insights People Leader Certification.

Advertising Your Company Incentives

                Getting your direct reports to be aware of what exactly they have access to begins with the job posting. According to Gallop, 64% of workers cited significant increases in income or benefits as “very important.” So, wouldn’t it make sense to advertise using these incentives? Recruiting fairs, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Handshake, among others, should not only list financial benefits, but also some incentives, such as Corporate Sponsorships, insurance, time off, and any other associated perks.

                In addition to this, any new employee orientation or in-service should always reiterate the opportunities available to direct reports. The more times that this is brought up, the more likely an employee is to look into this. 

                Have your benefit companies come advertise with you as well. For example, if you have an MBA sponsorship, have a professor or dean come and speak about the merits of getting an MBA. Using these advertisements helps your credibility. 

                Also, create partnerships with local schools and certifying boards! See if they can reduce prices with you in exchange for exclusivity deals and similar concessions. Cut costs and see what you can do.

                An education can completely change an individual’s life and improve your own business as a result. It feels like a no-brainer. So don’t be afraid to push your company incentives. 

Thu 8 September 2022
It can be lonely at the top. Managers must make decisions, and there aren’t too many people they can turn to for advice. Some managers want to be the “cool boss” that is comfortable with anything (think Michael Scott hosting a meeting in the conference room). Other managers believe that there can’t be any cordiality between them and their direct reports.
 This article will explain how managers can determine what is appropriate and what is not regarding relationships with direct reports. It explains why boundaries are necessary, and how to maintain social distance from your direct reports while creating a positive work environment with open communication and feedback, which many teams struggle with.
How can you find the perfect balance in the friend-manager relationship? Should you even try?
 
The Need for Friendships at Work
Research shows that friendships at work lead to enhanced emotional well-being. It’s important to have relationships with people who you can trust. 
Sharing life events decreases anxiety, improves productivity, and satisfies our need for human connection.
Of course, this is the case for peer-to-peer friendships, not employee-manager relationships. The latter requires a much more delicate balancing act by both parties.
 
The Need for Boundaries
A peer-to-peer relationship is an equal one; at least it should be. In an ideal world, there are no power plays to be had, and the two parties can be relatively open with one another at a personal level. 
A manager, however, must maintain boundaries with direct reports because they have significant influence over the direct report's professional and financial status. And that's a game-changer.
It is really difficult to be in the same fantasy football league with a direct report that then has to be disciplined or potentially fired…talk about awkward if you are matched up against each other in the playoffs!
The manager’s role in the relationship is to promote teamwork and guide individuals in their careers. A manager-direct relationship that is too friendly can compromise this role and make effective management impossible. There would be an imbalance in the way that one employee is treated over another. 
Kim Scott, the author of Radical Candor and leadership expert, delves into the “problem” of joining a workplace and being told to be “professional,” as if every other aspect of you and your character stays at home, and you’re supposed to be strictly professional at work. 
            But that feels more robotic than realistic to the way people interact with each other. Professionalism training has been pounded into everyone’s heads since their first job. 
How can managers deal with the situation of being friendly with their employees, and also maintaining structured policies and professionalism in the workplace?
Scott relays the idea of “radical candor” as a guide to moving specific conversations between employees and managers to a better place. 
 
What is Radical Candor?
Radical Candor is a philosophy of management based on the concept of “caring personally” while “challenging directly.”
●       Practices to get, give and encourage guidance and feedback at work (praise and criticism) 
●       Strategies for building a cohesive team 
●       Tools to help you and your team get stuff done with less drama 
●       It’s not a license to act like a jerk 
●       It’s not an invitation to get creepily personal
●       It’s not just for managers, we all want to succeed 
 
Radical Candor is practiced at companies all around the world, including Amazon, The New York Times, Forbes, Qualtrics, The Wall Street Journal, and many more. 
 
Use the Radical Candor Framework to Guide Your Conversations 
Understanding what is not Radical Candor can help you better understand what is. These are the behaviors that everyone falls into at one time or another: 
 
●       Obnoxious Aggression: Obnoxious Aggression, also called brutal honesty or front stabbing, is what happens when you challenge someone directly, but don’t show you care about them personally. It’s praise that doesn’t feel sincere or criticism and feedback that isn’t delivered kindly.
●       Ruinous Empathy: Ruinous Empathy is what happens when you want to spare someone’s short-term feelings, so you don’t tell them something they need to know. You Care Personally, but fail to Challenge Directly. It’s praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good or criticism that is sugar-coated and unclear. Or simply silence. Ruinous Empathy may feel nice or safe, but is ultimately unhelpful and even damaging. This is a feedback fail.
●       Manipulative Insincerity: Manipulative Insincerity (backstabbing, political or passive-aggressive behavior) is what happens when you neither Care Personally nor Challenge Directly. It’s praise that is insincere, flattery to a person’s face, and harsh criticism behind their back. Often it’s a self-protective reaction to Obnoxious Aggression. This is the worst kind of feedback failure.
 
            These are the behaviors that people can accidentally fall into in the workplace. These categories make up “radical candor.” The goal of this is to share your humble opinions directly, rather than talking badly about people behind their backs. 
            In a nutshell, radical candor is the ability to challenge others directly and show that you care about them personally at the same time. If done correctly, it will help you and all the people you surround yourself with do the best work of your/their lives and build trusted relationships throughout your career.
            However, as a manager, it can be difficult to manage these workplace relationships; constantly tweaking your approach to find the sweet spot between friendship and professionalism with your team. 
            As you’re working through this, remember that it’s important to have an outlet for yourself.
 
Managers Need Their Own Support Network
It can be lonely at the top where there must be boundaries set for working relationships. So, it's wise for managers to find their own support networks within the company culture and outside. 
A mentor can be someone within or outside your organization who has the experience and can provide you with advice. A professional career coach can also give you impartial advice and an objective opinion.
One highly-rated professional mentorship program is the Ambition In Motion Executive Mastermind Group. The key part of this program is that your mentor acts as a source of guidance and coaching, customized to your individual needs.
 
What is executive coaching? 
Executive coaches work with business leaders to enable their rapid development in the workplace. They also assist with specific problems that a board member, or senior manager, wants to work through outside of the normal business framework. 
This coaching focuses very specifically on the issues that an executive wants to work through. Thus it becomes a speedy way to improve skills and achieve personal and professional objectives.
The executive coach gives the executive feedback and a new perspective that enables them to set goals and work towards them. The coaching sessions use objective feedback to drive the executive's thought processes forward through their issues.
 
            As a manager or executive, having a support system such as an executive mentor is crucial. Following the radical candor framework will guide your conversations within the workplace. But be aware of your own need for support and friendship in the work environment and make a conscious effort to seek them out in the appropriate places. 

Building Mentor Connections Through Work Orientation

Kickstarting Mentorships For Fulfilling Careers

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