Investing in your people can pay off for your employees and your organization in many ways. Programs focusing on education and skills development can not only be life-changing for your employees, but also make a huge impact on engagement and retention. In 2017, adidas partnered with Arizona State University (ASU) to offer the adidasED x ASU Scholarship as an expansion to its Global Sport Alliance, a strategic partnership with the goal of shaping the future of sports and amplifying its positive impact on society.
This scholarship includes tuition coverage for degree programs online at ASU for adidas employees, granting them access to a world-class education and underpinning adidas’ commitment to employees.
When Theresa, a graphic designer for Reebok (an adidas company), heard about the adidasED x ASU Scholarship in a company newsletter, she knew the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“I always love to learn,” she said, “and I always had it in mind to potentially do a business degree, so I just jumped right on it and applied.”
Through education, adidas empowered employees to push themselves further and explore programs outside of their comfort zones. For Theresa, who had previously only worked in creative fields, graduating with a business degree was a way to not only expand her career options at adidas, but was also personally fulfilling: “I knew that the program I was taking wasn’t my strength, which is actually one reason why I ended up taking it. I thought it would bring me forward, proving to myself that I actually can.”
Beyond learning something new, the program offered a tangible connection to her work by helping her recognize how the skills and knowledge she acquired in her degree program applied to her day-to-day job: “I studied global management and it was really cool to see that I could apply the knowledge I gained or [that it] made me think about things differently.”
Theresa had limited experience with online learning prior to the adidasED x ASU Scholarship, but she eagerly applied. When reflecting on the decision, Theresa said, “It was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Because it’s a tough decision to say, I’m gonna quit my job and then go back to school full time.”
Going to school online provides flexibility to students who may not otherwise be able to attend classes, especially those who work full time. Theresa was “surprised [at] how great of an experience [the online program] was because online gives you a lot of flexibility. It adapts to your own schedule.”
There are also several opportunities for in-person enrichment, such as offering students the opportunity to expand their network and meet in-person. Theresa spent one week in Phoenix at the start of the semester.
“I met a lot of my cohort then in person,” Theresa said, “and from that moment on, we really bonded. I would say I got a lot of good friends out of the program, which you don’t expect when you think you’re going to study online.”
More than that, Theresa talked about the impact international trips and travel opportunities made on her. “I ended up going to Bogotá, Colombia and Sydney, Australia. It was a great combination of online classes and in person if you wanted to. [The program was] definitely accessible for many people and I think it’s for everybody. It was really diverse.”
This is why it’s so important to work with a quality academic network that has proven success with working adult students.
In addition to the flexibility of online courses, the program fee structure supported employee participation. Making the choice to go back to school is challenging enough. Add to that working full time and figuring out how to pay for it all — it’s easy to find countless reasons to put it off.
Traditional tuition assistance programs are buried within a list of benefits and put the burden on the employee. In fact, a recent survey showed only 1% to 2% of employees actually use them.
For Theresa, not having to pay for the courses upfront made the program that much more accessible, stating that “[having to front the money] can be a challenge, especially when you know you’re doing a regular track and you’re not stretching it out.”
Offering these types of programs results in increased employee engagement and retention. After completing the program, Theresa says, “I’m planning to stay with Reebok and the adidas group because they are offering creative opportunities to continue to grow. The ASU Scholarship program is just one example, so I definitely feel like I can continue to grow there and maybe try to see if there are new opportunities within the company where I can bring in more of the knowledge I’ve just learned or branch out.”
Theresa’s personal experience is just one example of how the adidasED x ASU Scholarship is shaping the future of sports and amplifying its positive impact on society. When companies equip their employees with strategic enterprise education™, they not only enhance their employees’ potential, but broaden their opportunities to stay and grow with your organization. And that’s the real game changer.