The Great Resignation has been a much-needed wake-up call to employers who have taken advantage of their workforce for far too long. At the tail end of the COVID pandemic, more workers than ever are searching for positions that can provide the support and salary they missed during the previous two years.

When an employee is not spending eight hours per day in an office surrounded by coworkers and business leaders, they have more time and space to consider what they expect from their employer.

As the pre-pandemic status quo threatens to return, more than 4 million Americans (and millions more workers around the world) have decided they would rather quit than accept the conditions they endured in 2019 and before.

Healthcare in particular has been hit hard by the Great Resignation. Lower-level healthcare workers have been subject to unprecedented levels of stress throughout the pandemic, compounded by increasing rates of illness, expanded work schedules and an increasingly indifferent population. Unfortunately, as healthcare workers leave their positions in search of less stressful work, even more stress is placed on healthcare organizations.

So, what can a healthcare organization do to entice the top talent that is currently searching for a new workplace — and keep their current workforce happy and engaged? The answer could be education benefits.

Why Education Benefits?

The Great Resignation is a fascinating and sometimes-frightening trend in employment, so naturally, economists, market analysts and myriad other business experts are studying the phenomenon. Interviews with employees who have resigned have helped researchers identify dozens of reasons why individuals are choosing to leave their positions — some less helpful to employers than others.

For example, a survey from PlanBeyond, a Seattle-based market research agency, found that 9 percent of ex-employees cited “being young” as a driving factor in their resignations, and there is little an organization can do to increase the age of their employees.

Of the issues organizations can control, nearly all of them are benefited from education assistance programs.

These include:

No appreciation. The same survey cited above found that a lack of recognition for effort and achievement was the top complaint from ex-employees. Offering access to education opportunities as a reward for high performance is a way to give top talent the appreciation they deserve.

No freedom. Organizations maintain rules and policies to reduce conflict, but strict procedures can make workers feel stifled in their roles. Education allows them to deepen their knowledge and expand their skills to feel distinctive in their positions.

Boredom. Research has found that nearly half of the workforce is bored by their current task load. Coursework can generate the additional challenge workers enjoy, providing them with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

No opportunities for professional growth. Too often, companies fill leadership positions with outside hires, compelling their lower-level workers to find available positions elsewhere. By engaging with education benefits, workers can demonstrate their eagerness and ability to function as business leaders.

Unfair compensation. Compensation is more than just salary. Workers want access to all manner of professional perks, with opportunities for education, training and other professional development at the top of the list.

What Are Education Benefits?

Education benefits are perks offered in addition to salary that give workers access to classes, courses and programs that will improve their knowledge, skill and credentials and facilitate advancements in their careers.

Often, when business leaders read the term “education benefits,” they immediately think of tuition assistance programs — and though tuition aid and reimbursement are sought-after, they are not an organization’s only option.

Healthcare organizations might turn to more creative education benefits if they cannot afford the expense of tuition assistance. For example, businesses can partner with local or online schools to give their employees first access to courses related to their field, which can be especially useful for popular courses that fill up fast. Healthcare companies might also guarantee certain resources to workers who enroll in short courses online, such as dedicated study spaces, access to software and study supplies and extra paid time off during exam season.

Finally, healthcare leaders can function as education providers by developing their own training and mentorship programs.

The Great Resignation is a lesson that business leaders need to listen to the needs and wants of their workforce. Healthcare organizations that offer attractive perks like education benefits are better positioned to attract top talent, especially as high performers evaluate their happiness and opportunities within their current roles.

Healthcare leaders struggling to maintain their workforce in the Great Resignation should talk to their staff about what they look for in the perfect education benefits programs.