When a customer buys something at Taco Bell, they’re asked if they’d like to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar. They’re told it helps support their employees’ education, but of course, that can seem abstract and perfunctory to someone just hungry for a chalupa. So when someone does round up their purchase at a Taco Bell in Bloomington, Ind., employee Megan Humphreys-Savell always makes a point of smiling and making it personal.
“I tell them, ‘Your donation helped me go to school,’ ” says Humphreys-Savell, 20. Those pennies have, among other things, helped contribute to a $25,000 scholarship she received through the franchise’s foundation; now she’s enrolled at the nearby Indiana University, majoring in arts education. “They’re definitely surprised,” she says of customers’ reactions. “I just don’t think they’d ever given it a second thought. I love to see their faces when I tell them that.”
Humphreys-Savell was in foster care from ages 12 to 14, when she was adopted by a family with three other children. A college degree had always seemed financially out of reach, but she was determined. It’s why she originally took a job at Taco Bell—though she had no idea about its educational benefits. At the time, she was just trying to earn some cash to pay for classes at a local community college. Then she discovered she could apply for a Taco Bell Live Más scholarship, did so, and became one of 531 people (selected from 13,000 applicants) in 2019 to receive the help.
Across the franchise world, her story is becoming common. An increasing number of franchises have started to offer education benefits for full- and part-time employees, ranging from college tuition assistance to English language instruction and high school equivalency programs. And it’s happening because these businesses have discovered something seemingly counterintuitive: Spending money on their employees’ education— and therefore providing access to opportunities far larger than their current jobs—isn’t just good for employees. It’s also good for business.
“If you look at how competitive it is in the hourly workspace, it’s become table stakes to have these kinds of programs,” says Bjorn Erland, Taco Bell’s recent vice president of people and experience. (He left the company in October.) The results, so far, are undeniable: In a 2017 pilot at 700 restaurants, Taco Bell saw a 34 percent increase in retention over the first six months among employees who received its educational benefits.
“This is the next movement,” says Rachel Carlson, CEO and co-founder of Guild Education, which helps run education programs for customers ranging from Walmart to Walt Disney and is now branching into the franchise sector.
“If the ’60s were about healthcare and the ’80s were about 401(k)s, education is the new employee benefit,” she says. “Franchises are thinking, How can we compete? And [underwriting education offers] a high return on investment.”
HERE’S THE statistic that tells the story: Ten years ago, employers spent $13.8 billion (adjusted for inflation) helping their employees pay for a college education. Today, it’s nearly $16.5 billion, according to the College Board. Part of that increase is thanks to a particularly sharp rise in the benefits available to low-wage workers, who have gotten harder to find and keep as unemployment rates fall.
The movement began outside franchising, in some of America’s most heavy-hitting brands. Among the first to dive in was the nation’s largest private employer, Walmart, which in 2012 offered to pick up 15 percent of its employees’ costs to attend a for-profit online university. (It has since expanded the perk by covering even more of the tab for workers who pursue degrees in business, supply chain management, technology, or health and wellness, and by adding to the number of colleges where they can do it.)
Next came Starbucks, which began to pay for the cost of degrees for its baristas through the online arm of Arizona State University. Other big businesses followed; now even Uber is offering its drivers and their relatives a free ride through ASU’s online division.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Staying Ahead of Change
Yousuf Ali had a successful career in marketing until he failed to embrace new technologies. Now, as a My Eyelab franchisee, embracing forward-thinking capabilities is the key to his success.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS STARTS WITH PROCESS
My business barely survived its first few years, and I nearly crumbled under the stress.Then I learned the greatest lesson of my career, which transformed our company into the go-to apron brand for restaurants everywhere: Without process, we are nothing.
Ready For A Big Return
The end of the pandemic is in sight, and many franchises are anticipating an explosion in business. Leaders at four franchises share how their brands are working overtime to prepare for the rush and win back coveted business.
Bethenny Frankel Is a Time-management Machine
She builds multimillion-dollar brands, stars in TV shows, and vigorously defends every moment of her day. The secret? It starts with deciding what matters (and what doesn’t).
Think Like a Disruptor
If you want to shake things up, you must have a mindset that’s different from everyone else’s. Here are three ways to reshape your thinking.
Can Creativity Be Created?
Your team has big ideas. To unlock them, you must first build an environment of support and encouragement.
Managing Mental Illness Can Be a Team Effort
Like so many people—and so many entrepreneurs— my husband and business partner struggles with his mental health. I’m speaking up so others know: With the right understanding, life and business can still be good.
His Worst Five Years Were His Life's Best Gift
What is it like to build a hit business and then lose all control? The founder of Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man has a lot to say about that.
Creating Trust Where There Was None
Home renovations are full of headaches—but how do you fix an age-old industry woe? Here’s how Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten, built something better.
Build Lasting Partnerships
Finding trustworthy vendors and partners is key to growing your business—but it’s a challenging relationship to perfect. We asked six entrepreneurs to share their best methods.
A Cubicle Never Looked So Good
What we lose when we have to work from home
“This is a time when people need trusted brands”
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek’s Carol Massar, the good-business champion behind consumer brands from Dove to Ben & Jerry’s shares how the pandemic is strengthening his resolve
The Real Workforce Impact of HR Technology
From automating basic administrative tasks to attracting more talented employees, HR technology has a lot to offer small and midsize businesses.
Huawei Moving US Research Center To Canada
The founder of Huawei says the Chinese tech giant is moving its U.S. research center to Canada due to American sanctions on the company.
Building Trust While Cutting Costs
During a restructuring, rumors spread and fear takes hold. You can reduce the turmoil by finding ways to inform, empower, and inspire employees.
The 1099 Bind
The most valuable startups in America call their workers independent contractors. Courts are starting to say they arent. If your on-demand company must treat workers as employees, can the gig economy survive?
How Creative Perks Strengthen Corporate Culture
When you cant swing egg freezing and baby cash bonuses, consider more modest options that employees will appreciate.
कोरोना महामारी में 106 बेस्ट कर्मचारियों ने गंवाई अपनी जान
अति आवश्यक कार्यों में लगे हुए कर्मचारियों को परिवहन सेवा उपलब्ध कराने वाली बेस्ट के कर्मचारियों भी कोरोना से जुझ रहे हैं।
सरकार ने गैर-सरकारी कार्यालयों के कर्मचारियों को टीकाकरण की मंजूरी दी
राज्य के मुख्य सचिव ने बढ़ते कोरोना संक्रमण पर की व्यापारी वर्ग के साथ बैठक, टीकाकरण पर दिया जोर
CHALET HOTELS ANNOUNCES VACCINATION COVER FOR EMPLOYEES
It is amongst the first Indian hospitality companies to announce vaccination cover for its people across all properties