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Over the past several years, Walmart has been far from the only large employer to offer, expand, and advertise its employee education benefits.  

Some of the biggest employers in the country, including Amazon, Chipotle, Target and Starbucks now offer college as a benefit. Educational benefits provided to employees have shifted over the years.  

Today, education benefits can range from employers giving employees funds directly for education expenses, to employers offering internal training and certificate programs, to employers funding specific programs at external colleges and universities. 

Mike Morini, CEO of WorkForce Software, which allows employers to organize education benefits on its platform, says announcing a benefit like free college is good optics for organizations hoping — and struggling — to hire.  

Education benefits are “a combination of goodwill, good visibility, and a good program for people,” Morini says. They are also “a retention tool, no doubt about it.” 

Interestingly, education benefits may also be increasingly popular because of their potential to tap into the psychology of workers, and evoke loyalty and dedication, especially following difficult pandemic working conditions. 

“Employees want to be acknowledged, they want to be recognized, they want to feel like they have a say, they want to be a part of something, which can be hard for remote and hourly workers,” says Morini. “And I think by just giving them more money, it’s not a tie to the company.”