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Little Blue Vol. 1
Eng 211
3-2-16
Prof. Herndon
The Value of a Corporate University

The path to developing a bigger online course participation rate is to achieve

university level accreditation for the courses. This system incorporates a modified

version of the courses already in place to serve a dual purpose for the employees. On one

level, Fastenal will continue to train to corporate standards and on the second level, the

employees are able to use the same training for further education. The credits will be

transferable for staff to earn an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s degree.

Fastenal will enjoy many benefits with a program that offers accredited courses.

First, it creates a highly skilled workforce. Training is directly related to job performance

and efficiency. This efficiency is a measurable statistic that the company already has

researched due the existing training program. In an article written about the corporate

investment on training, the author states, “To bring it down to business basics, statistics

bear out that if you invest in people who are knowledge workers then you get a good

return. This has been our experience as well” (Training is Key). A skilled workforce is

going to be Fastenal’s biggest asset to this investment. There are other ancillary gains

that can be made from course accreditation as well.

Through an accreditation program Fastenal will have another non-monetary

incentive to offer their employees. With more incentives the company will promote

employee loyalty and make recruiting new ones easier. In an article written about

employee loyalty and retention, the authors explain, “Researchers have concluded that

when high performers are insufficiently rewarded, they leave (Soundarapandiyan, Ganesh
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4). This is a perk that can be used to attract new employees and keep those already in

place. The authors continue with, “collective reward programs replace individual

incentives, their introduction may lead to higher turnover among high performers”

(Soundarapandiyan, Ganesh 4). The accreditation process can be seen as a collective

reward program. It does not single out any employees, but rather is an opportunity for

them to improve their skills by taking advantage of a corporate program. The authors

also cite commitment as an important factor for employee loyalty, “He further notes a

reciprocal relationship between commitment and turnover intentions (lower commitment

leads to greater intentions to quit, which in turn further lowers commitment)”

(Soundarapandiyan, Ganesh 4). Participants of this program will have created a long-

term commitment to the company. As long as they are enrolled in discounted classes

through a university, the employee will work at Fastenal. There will also be a drive to

take more courses offered through Fastenal to eliminate more outside coursework.

Promoting employee loyalty while simultaneously increasing retention rate

combined with employee commitment will offer a return on investment. A study of a

company was conducted which offers tuition reimbursements saw a return on investing in

their employee’s higher education. Colleen Manchester describes the results over a five-

year period. There were the tuition costs ($689,379) and fixed costs ($256,672) that

made their total investment. They saw a return of approximately $1,105,000, or a return

on investment of approximately 120% (Manchester, 965). We do not propose a tuition

reimbursement program, but this study does show that employees value higher education

and inevitably bring that to the workplace. It is profitable for a company to offer a non-

monetary incentive to employees to increase their work performance. At the same time it
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is advantageous for employees to participate in a program that saves them time, money

and helps them achieve a higher skillset.

In addition, the degree program is also benefited for improving company loyalty

and talent retention. Through the process of training, employees can better understand the

core concepts of the company. Also, employees continuously improve while staying to

work. If company is going to satisfy all needs of employees, workers will have no reason

to quit and change jobs. A survey of Canadians in 2015 conducted by the Izzo Group

showed that 71 percent of Canadians under 40 years old would still prefer to stay with

one company for their entire career as long as the company can satisfy their needs (Izzo).

Therefore, as long as Fastenal keeps improving business and employee benefits, they will

have more and more loyal employees and talents.

With accreditation, the standards of training will potentially be modified. The

variation to the curriculum may change the perception of prestige about the existing

program. If employees know that the online courses double as college courses, it may be

viewed it as being a higher standard of learning, even if it is not the case.

Luckily, the proposed model of a corporate university is not untested. There are

many businesses that have found this to be both profitable and good for their employees.

McDonald’s Inc. has arguably the largest, well known corporate university. They have

many of their training courses that double as college credit. In an online synopsis of the

educational program that McDonald’s employs they show which of their corporate online

training courses can double as university credit. When asking McDonald’s representatives

about the continued success of their university program, a spokesperson said, ““One

hundred percent of McDonald’s restaurant management and middle management
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curriculum is accredited by ACE. The credits for these courses represent nearly half of

the credits required to attain an associate’s degree at a two-year college and a significant

portion of the total credits needed for a baccalaureate degree at a four-year institution.”

(Maynard, 303). For those looking to advance in their career, this could be a good

opportunity to accomplish two tasks at once. Because of the size and wealth of

McDonald’s they have their own campus called Hamburger University (Welcome

McDonald’s Employees). Yet, McDonald’s has a partnership with Excelsior College,

who provide the rest of the unoffered courses to obtain a degree.

Excelsior has a corporate partnership set up with many other companies such as:

Taco Bell, GE, J.B. Hunt Transportation, Delta Airlines, Jack-in-the-Box, and Tyson

foods (McDonald’s Program Excelsior). What they offer is a corporate discount to

tuition for participating corporate members. This creates a symbiotic relationship

between the online university and the corporation. As long as Fastenal is granted ACE

certification for its online courses, an online university (Excelsior, University of Phoenix)

will accept the credits, provide the remainder of the classes, and offer discounted tuition.

Since Fastenal is not strong enough to create a totally independent university, it

can rely on the existing college and supply training. Similarly, J.B. Hunt has a good

example of university combination. From the article J.B. Hunt Supply Chain University,

it mentions, “In 2013, J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. announced that they and the Sam M.

Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas are once again combining their

expertise in supply chain management to develop and launch the J.B. Hunt Supply Chain

University.” Combining a university can reduce the cost of creating a corporate university

and strengthen the degree credibility.
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In order for Fastenal to implement a program like this, they need to contact the

American Council on Education to gain accreditation. In an online essay, Christopher

Connell states that, “over 2,000 institutions accept ACE standards”. Being approved by

ACE does not limit employees to one particular institution. As Connell points out, there

are many universities that would accept the transfer credits if an individual did not want

to participate in a partnering online university. Achieving accreditation from this

organization is key to implementing the program. Without the approval of ACE, there is

little chance to make it effective.

To start this process a representative of the company’s training program will need

to contact ACE about the process of accreditation. Fastenal will need to change or

modify existing courses in the Fastenal intranet to meet ACE requirements. Approval

standards are necessary if a university is going to accept corporate training as college

credit.

Next, it would be wise for Fastenal to find an affiliate university. Choices would

preferably be one that provides online courses such as Excelsior or University of

Phoenix. Although many universities accept ACE, these programs offer additional online

courses and a corporate discount rate (Excelsior Ed. Partner Pricing). Once the project is

green-lighted, then Fastenal needs to focus on bringing awareness to all employees about

the university program. This would include incorporating a non-monetary incentives

program to corporate literature and recruitment advertising. This work would be done a

few months ahead of the expected launch date. Lastly, Fastenal will want to track

participation results to make changes in the future to maximize participation.
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Works Cited:

Connell, Christipher. "Tired of Waiting, Employers Offer Just-in-Time Education." The

Hechinger Report. 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 28 Feb. 2016. "Excelsior College Selected

as Preferred Education Provider for McDonald's." Chief Learning Officer.

tMediaTec Publishing, 09 July 2007. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

"J.B. Hunt Supply Chain University." Business Wire. J.B. HUNT TRANSPORT, INC., 3

Apr. 2014. Web. 3 March, 2016.
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Izzo John. "Employee loyalty: not dead, just different; Learning and development, pride

in the brand, work/life balance, and returning the feeling: these are the

new drivers, JOHN IZZO argues." The Globe and Mail (Canada). (March 3,

2006 Friday): 1957 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed:

2016/03/01.

Manchester, Colleen Flahrety. "General Human Capital And Employee

Mobility: How Tuition Reimbursement Increases Retention Through Sorting And

Participation." Industrial & Labor Relations Review 65.4 (2012): 951-974.

Business Source Premier. Web. 1 Mar. 2016.

Maynard, W. Barksdale. "Thoreau's House at Walden." Art Bulletin 81.2 (1999): 303.

Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 19 Nov. 2002.

Soundarapandiyan, K., and M. Ganesh. "Employee Retention Strategy With Reference

To Chennai Based Ites Industry- An Empirical Study." Global Management

Review 9.2 (2015): 1-13. Business Source Premier. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

"Training is key to keep staff; LEGAL AFFAIRS." Australian Financial Review.

(October 15, 1999 Friday): 380 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date

Accessed: 2016/03/01.

"Welcome McDonald's Employees." Excelsior College. Excelsior College, 2015. Web.

28 Feb. 2016.