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Bath & Body Works Adds Tuition Benefits

exterior shot of a Bath and Body Works storefront

Reflecting a larger trend of employers looking for ways to support employee education, Bath & Body Works has become the latest employer to support learning for its workers, rolling out a suite of education benefits to help boost employee well-being and attract and retain staff.

The Columbus, Ohio-based retailer’s new educational benefits include an education reimbursement of up to $3,000 annually for work-related courses; discounted tuition at Otterbein University near Columbus for employees, their spouses or domestic partners, and dependent children; and a platform through education provider Guild that offers tuition-free online courses. The Guild program allows workers to obtain GED diplomas; associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degrees; and certifications.

SHRM research finds that undergraduate or graduate tuition assistance has stayed relatively steady over the past several years: A little less than half of employers (46%) offer the benefit, according to the SHRM 2024 Employee Benefits Survey, while 9% offer educational scholarships for members of employees’ families and 9% offer employees student loan repayment. SHRM has been advocating for a permanent extension of student loan repayment as a benefit under IRS Section 127, which would allow employers to provide up to $5,250 of tax-free, student loan repayment educational assistance as a benefit to their employees. Currently, these benefits are set to expire in December 2025.

“Our associates are the soul of our company, and investing in their well-being is a top priority,” Gina Boswell, Bath & Body Works CEO, said in a statement. “We are committed to providing growth and development opportunities which give our associates what they need to be at their best both personally and professionally. We believe that when people feel valued and empowered to be successful, we can continue to grow as a stronger, smarter business.”

Bath & Body Works has roughly 57,000 employees, although the personal care products retailer did not clarify which employees are eligible for the new benefits.

The announcement comes as employers across industries are prioritizing employee well-being and professional development and boosting benefits as a result. A recent survey from Fidelity Investments and Business Group on Health found that more than half of all respondents plan to broaden their well-being strategy in the next three to five years.

Education benefits have been gaining popularity in recent years. Retailers in particular have added such benefits, both to upskill workers and to help ease the burden of expensive tuition. Over the past decade, costs at public four-year colleges have risen by about 10%, while private colleges have seen a 19% increase, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And research shows that student debt is often severely detrimental to borrowers’ mental health.

Target, Walmart, Chipotle, and the Walt Disney Co. also offer education benefits for their employees. Walmart launched its “Live Better U” education benefit in 2018 as a $1-per-day offering for associates and dropped the fee in 2021 to make it even more accessible. Earlier this year, Walmart expanded the benefit by doubling the number of short-form certificates and courses that are paid for by the company to more than 50, with the aim of increasing opportunities for employees to get higher-paying, higher-skilled jobs.

Education benefits are often in demand from workers, and they can be a boon to business as well: According to an EdAssist study, 8 in 10 employees who participate in tuition assistance programs say they make them more likely to stay with their employer.

In addition, Bath & Body Works announced the addition of an instant pay benefit, having partnered with DailyPay, a tool allowing workers access to their earnings before payday. More employers are turning to instant pay benefits as a way to help employees who struggle with financial insecurity.

Studies show more Americans may be falling into that category. An April survey by CNBC and SurveyMonkey found that 65% of Americans say they live paycheck to paycheck. Another study by the American Staffing Association and the Harris Poll earlier this year found that 53% of workers feel their paychecks are not keeping up with the pace of inflation.

Last fall, Bath & Body Works opened a full-service health care facility for its workers at its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters. Together, the benefits—including the education offerings, instant pay and the health care facility—are part of the retailer’s new initiative called “Investing in You,” with offerings designed to support workers “throughout their personal and professional journeys,” the company said.


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