INDIANAPOLIS (September 27, 2016)—A new study shows employers that offer tuition assistance benefit both from talent management cost savings and from the increased knowledge and skills of their workers.

An analysis of Advocate Health Care’s Education Assistance Program (EAP), conducted by Accenture and partner Lumina Foundation, shows a 4-percent return on every dollar invested in tuition assistance for the health system. For Advocate’s business and administrative workforce, EAP generates a 58-percent ROI.

Talent investments are the right thing for employers to do and they bolster business’ bottom line. #InvestInTalent

“There are thousands of adults in this county who have talent that is waiting to be tapped,” said Lumina Foundation President & CEO Jamie Merisotis. “We now know that talent investments are not only the right thing for employers to do in order to help employees secure a promising future, but they also bolster business’ bottom line and grow our country’s talent pipeline.”

The study of Advocate’s EAP offers a glimpse into the multifaceted benefits resulting from tuition assistance programs. Research consistently showcases how postsecondary education positively impacts the individual through higher employment levels and greater lifetime earnings. However, relatively few studies focus on the outcomes for employers who invest in employee education, even though these investments are often significant. Accenture and Lumina’s study measures this benefit by examining differences in rates of promotion, transfer, retention, and absenteeism between employees who took advantage of EAP from 2011 to 2015, and those who did not. The study isolated for other factors, such as job function, that could impact findings.

The analysis shows that Advocate’s EAP increases employee career opportunities and retention rates, which drives financial returns for Advocate. Program participants are up to 4 percent more likely to be promoted, up to 0.6 percent more likely to be transferred within Advocate, and up to 3 percent more likely to stay at the company, which reduces talent management and recruiting costs. For employees, participation in EAP generated an average of at least a 17-percent increase in wage gains over non-participants.

Karen Slawik, an administrative associate, is one of many Advocate employees whose career benefitted from EAP. She was financially unable to pursue a degree until she learned about EAP when she joined Advocate as an executive assistant. Within four years, she not only earned a degree but also a new position within Advocate—a post-graduation opportunity to move into a new, higher-paying role on Advocate’s HR team. Karen is applying the lessons she learned in her courses to her new position and is starting her MBA this the fall.

“Karen’s story is representative of so many program participants, and reflects the capacity of EAP to make meaningful differences in the career trajectories of our associates while simultaneously advancing our organizational interests. Investments in a better educated workforce not only make fiscal sense but improve our health care ministry’s ability to provide the highest quality care in the communities we serve.” – Daylashunta Randolph, VP Learning Institutes at Advocate Health Care

The results of the Advocate study come at an important juncture in the development of America’s postsecondary learning system. By 2020, two-thirds of all jobs in the U.S. will require some form of higher education, but today only about 45 percent of Americans have at least a two-year degree or other postsecondary credential.

As in the case of Advocate’s Karen Slawik, many Americans face the financial burden of further education, and find themselves struggling to gain the credentials necessary to succeed in today’s talent market. By investing in its employees’ education, Advocate enhances the knowledge and skills of its workforce, while setting its employees up for a brighter future within the company. Managers at Advocate’s experience the benefits EAP firsthand as employees develop skills and knowledge through the program.

“One of my employees, Cathy Brilando, has always been an asset to our department. She recently earned Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) as a result of Advocate’s EAP program,” said Caryn Smith, Manager of Clinical Operations at Advocate. “Without the additional education, Cathy would not have had the confidence or skills to be in her current position. Having the degree catapulted her career in ways she doesn’t even realize. It’s been wonderful to watch her grow.”

Lumina Foundation hopes to encourage more companies to support their employees’ postsecondary education and training by illuminating the bottom-line benefits to the company. The Foundation has supported a handful of other studies demonstrating the financial impact of tuition assistance programs, including Cigna, the global health insurance company. More studies are available on Lumina Foundation’s website, where additional analyses of tuition assistance programs will be posted in the coming months.

About Lumina Foundation: Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Our goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

About Advocate Health Care: Advocate Health Care is the largest health system in Illinois and one of the largest health care providers in the Midwest. A national leader in population health management, Advocate is one of the largest Accountable Care Organizations in the country. Advocate operates more than 450 sites of care and 12 hospitals, including two of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals, the state’s largest integrated children’s network, five Level I trauma centers (the state’s highest designation in trauma care), three Level II trauma centers, one of the area’s largest home health and hospice companies and one of the region’s largest medical groups. Advocate Health Care trains more primary care physicians and residents at its four teaching hospitals than any other health system in the state. As a not-for-profit, mission-based health system affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ, Advocate contributed $686 million in charitable care and services to communities across Chicagoland and Central Illinois in 2015. To learn more, visit

About Accenture: Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions—underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network—Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With more than 375,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at

Back to News