Workforce Development

Program Profile: Anthem Learning Network – College for America Partnership

June 1, 2017  • UpSkill America & Jaime S. Fall


Anthem, Inc.

Upskilling program name

The Anthem Learning Network – College for America (CFA) Partnership

Program goal(s)

The College for America partnership offers Anthem associates the opportunity to earn a fully accredited college degree from Southern New Hampshire University that is 100% covered by the Anthem Education Assistance benefit. We have several expected outcomes of this program that tie to our overarching goal to attract, develop and retain the high performing talent essential to achieving Anthem’s purpose, vision and values.

The goal of the program is to enable our associates to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree that equips them with skills and competencies that are applicable on the job. The program is designed to remove barriers that traditionally prevent adults from achieving higher education goals, i.e. high cost, rigid schedule and location. The program is online and offers a flexible pace and schedule. The curriculum is based on competencies that are applicable in the workplace, and skills are applied in project-based learning.

We expect that graduates of the program will have improved skills and on-the-job performance, as well as higher rates of promotion, retention, engagement, motivation, confidence and other professional and leadership competencies.

Who provides the program services (in-house, outside provider, etc.)?

The College for America partnership is promoted internally on the corporate university — Anthem Learning Network — and the program is provided by Southern New Hampshire University.

If outside providers, please list key partners.

Southern New Hampshire University

Who is the program is designed to assist?

Any Anthem associate may participate in the program. However, the partnership was originally derived from a need to provide more opportunity for career growth and mobility to associates in front line roles that do not require a college degree.

Who is eligible for the program?

Any Anthem associate, and the immediate family any Anthem associate, is eligible to participate in the program.

How is the program funded (i.e., company/participant share; prepaid by company vs. individual reimbursement; etc.)?

Anthem reimburses associates for 100% of the cost of the College for America program. A deferred payment plan is available so there is no upfront, out-of-pocket tuition cost. Payment may be made by the student once reimbursement is received from Anthem.

Is there an annual or lifetime cap on the program benefits?

The Anthem Education Assistance benefit is $5,000 per year for full-time employees and $2,500 per year for part-time employees. The College for America program costs each student $1,500 per 6 month term which is $3,000 per year. Thus, the cost is 100% covered for full-time Anthem employees and 83.3% covered for part-time employees. There is no lifetime cap on the Anthem Education Assistance benefit for associates.

The per-term cost of the CFA program is fixed, regardless of the number of credit hours the student completes. However, since the program is self-paced, the number of terms a student may complete before graduating varies. To ensure progress and commitment to the CFA program, Anthem requires that an associate must successfully complete an average of 6 credit hours per 6-month term in order to qualify for tuition reimbursement. Thus, for the CFA program, the total reimbursement for an Associate degree (60 credit hours) will not exceed $15,000, and the total reimbursement for a Bachelor’s degree will be $30,000 or less.

Do employees get paid time off to participate or are they in any way compensated for their participation?

Anthem employees do not get paid time off to participate, nor are they directly compensated for their participation. As described above, they may receive the Education Assistance benefit that will cover 100% of the cost of the CFA program.

What is your participation goal, and what actions are you taking to reach that goal?

Currently, we do not have a specific participation goal. Since launching the program company-wide 1.5 years ago, our focus has been upon measuring the results of the program against our expected outcomes, i.e. graduate promotion rates, retention, improved performance, etc. In order to encourage participation in the program, we regularly communicate program benefits, results and Anthem student testimonials in a variety of forums, to include the corporate university — Anthem Learning Network.

What, if any, supports do you have in place to ensure participants complete the program?

The College for America program provides every participant with personal, professional support. Each student works with a dedicated CFA Learning Coach and receives detailed feedback on every project from academic reviewers. They also have peer interaction in an online CFA student community as well as team projects. At Anthem, managers are encouraged to promote the CFA program during career development conversations, and to support current CFA students.

What data are you collecting/tracking?

We monitor monthly enrollment, graduation rates, mobility (promotions/lateral moves), compensation changes and tuition reimbursement. In collaboration with CFA, we administered a survey to the managers of current students to obtain feedback on changes observed in on-the-job performance to include specific skills, competencies and leadership qualities. We will continue to collect this type of data in order to assess the impact of the program.

How do you think about, measure, or plan to measure the benefits the program brings to the company?

We measure the benefits of the program in a variety of ways, i.e. number of graduates, career mobility, increased retention, improved performance, etc. In 2017, we will conduct a comprehensive ROI study to compare the cost of the CFA program to the impact on associate performance, career mobility and talent pipelines, engagement and retention, and other measurable business outcomes.

What results have you seen to date?
  • 1,489 Anthem associates are currently enrolled in the program.
  • 152 degrees (144 AA and 8 BA degrees) have been awarded.
  • 27.2% of CFA graduates have been promoted.

CFA graduates are over 50% more likely to be promoted than associates in similar positions. While the survey results have not been formally released, Anthem managers of CFA students reported improved communication, problem solving, decision making and leadership skills. In addition, they reported the program positively impacted key attributes such as con dence and motivation. This feedback is supported by the many student testimonials we have received.

In hindsight, what is the best decision you made in setting up this program?

Creating an implementation plan that included all of the stakeholders and areas impacted by the program so that everyone was well informed, program information was easily accessible, and there were no surprises. This included collaboration with HR Business Partners, key business leaders, Benefits Administration, reimbursement processing, Finance, IT Security, Anthem Learning Network web development, Internal Communications, Public Relations/External Communications, Talent Acquisition Employment Branding, HR policy consultant, Learning & Development leadership and the Chief HR Officer.

What, if any, changes have you made in the program since its introduction? Why were these changes made?

We made one small change to the per-term credit hour requirement for tuition reimbursement. We adjusted the language to allow for more flexibility, i.e. ‘an average of 6 credit hours per term while enrolled in the program’. This change was made because completion rates from term to term may fluctuate, but progress toward a degree may still meet the minimum requirement. This was the case with one associate and we made the policy adjustment.

What advice would you give those considering a similar project?

As outlined in question #16, consult with all impacted areas and include them in the implementation plan. Continue to promote the program regularly. After implementation, hold regular meetings with the program provider and key stakeholders to monitor the program health and make adjustments as needed. Measure and promote program results and success stories.

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