The retail legend is offering debt-free education programs for high school and college degrees to its employees in the US.

In an effort to help retain and retrain employees in the midst of the Great Resignation, American Retail Legend Macy’s Inc. is offering a debt-free educational benefit to more than 100,000 of its employees starting in February.

The retailer is collaborating with the Guild Education platform and skills development platform to create a four-year program that includes courses for high school graduation, college preparation, English language teaching, associate and bachelor degrees, work camps and certificates professional, all inside Macy’s debt free. network on the platform. The $ 35 million program is open to full-time, paid and hourly Macy’s employees working in the US and will cover 100% of tuition, books and fees.

Retailers have been hit particularly hard in the Great Resignation, prompting many to look for innovative ways to hire and retain workers. wealth reports that more than 720,000 retail employees made the announcement in August alone. As part of its efforts, Macy’s also announced this month that it is raising its minimum rate to $ 15 / hour in all store locations. It has already phased in the new tariff in several markets and will offer it nationally by May. This past summer, Macy’s supplemented salary also rose to $ 15 an hour for employees at its distribution center.

Related: Number of human resource technology: Barriers to skills improvement

The company’s new educational benefit aims to remove a “major” barrier. continuing education and help its employees grow their careers and the potential to earn, according to Danielle Kirgan, head of transformation and human resources at Macy’s.

From the moment they express interest until the end of the program, colleagues have access to a trainer dedicated to helping them navigate the road, “says Kirgan.” This was important to us because we know the registration process and Completing a work program can be challenging. “

Danielle Kirgan and Macy’s

Macy’s first considered offering an educational benefit in 2019, but ruled it out because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kirgan says the retailer’s interest in working with Guild stemmed from his diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, as well as its performance-driven culture. Kirgan calls the program “A natural addition to the in-house learning opportunities we offer.”

Employees who enroll will use the Guild’s online learning platform, which offers classes ranging from short virtual start camps and training sessions to online courses and certification programs lasting several weeks.

Aiming at retaining employees

Guild, which also counts as clients of Lowe’s, Disney, Taco Bell and Five Guys, sees evidence that its services help with employee retention. This summer, Target and Walmart signed up to provide debt-free education for its front-line workers using the platform. AND Chipotle employees who participated in the Education program in the restaurant chain, for example, were 7.5 times more likely to move into a leadership role. Guild also found that Black employees of a client were 2.1 times more likely to be promoted when participating in Guild programs.

“The big key here is unlocking economic opportunities when employees stay in a company and see that their effort with the Guild program has unlocked a promotion. You are really trying to tackle your goals of diversity, equality and inclusion through something like retraining and education, ”says Lorna Hagen, Guild’s People Leader.

We were impressed with the quality of the Guild offer [that is] tailored specifically to working adults, as well as its academic partnerships and its history. We were also attracted by the training support that Guild offers to our colleagues “, says Kirgan.

In a job market that has seen workers leave in alarming numbers, employers are trying to keep their employees engaged in their careers, says Rebecca Wettemann, CEO and CEO at Valoir, a tech industry analytics firm. focused on the connection between people and workplace technology. “As companies seek to better engage employees, helping them see a path to career advancement in the company – even from entry-level positions – is a key factor in engagement,” she says. “Providing them with access to education can be an important differentiator in both recruitment and retention.”

Improving skills is also a key factor in helping employees maintain their stability in the workplace, Hagen says.

Lorna Hagen and Guild

“One of the things we like to say in the Guild is the longevity of an ability. “It’s very short,” says Hagen. “This idea is four years of faculty and 40 years of career [no longer applies]. The shelf life of a skill set is less than four years.

Macy clearly thought so. “We heard from our colleagues through various surveys that continuing education is important to them. We realized that a partnership with an organization like the Guild would do it allow “Growing colleagues nurtures our talent line and helps achieve equality,” says Kirgan.

She adds: “From arecruitment perspective, education offer is a part of consideration DETERMINED for our future and critical colleagues so that we can remain competitive. ”

Phil Albinus is HR Technical Editor for HRE. He has covered personal and business technology for 25 years and has served as editor and executive editor for a range of financial services, commercial technology and employee benefit titles. He is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and lives in the Hudson Valley with his audiologist wife and three grown children. He can be contacted at and followed on Twitter @philalbinus.