Sedona's Pink Jeep Tours Company offering free tuition to all workers

Companies desperate for employees have turned to big bonuses and other perks to try and get employees in the door, and for them to stick around.

While it hasn't been easy, a well-known tour company in Arizona is now offering a longer term investment to its workers: free college tuition.

The company, Pink Jeep Tours Company in Sedona, is now part of a new push to invest in their employees' future. Pink Jeep Tours' parent company, Herschend Enterprises, will cover 100% of tuition, including fees and books, starting at the end of the month for all of their employees nationwide.

The free tuition program offers more than 100 bachelor programs, including two at the University of Arizona.

Free tuition is a huge perk for employees like Deann Johns. Johns started with Pink Jeep Tours three years ago as a tour guide. She is now a supervisor.

"Not a bad office," Said Johns.

Johns, who is a single mother, also went for an associate’s degree in business. College costs had her feeling like she might be priced out of a bachelor’s degree.

"Just the cost of books, tuition, I thought maybe I can do a certificate because that’s affordable for me," said Johns. "I wondered how I would continue my education because of the cost and being a single mom, this opportunity offers that for me."

Officials with Pink Jeep Tours say their staffing has been OK, but not perfect. Nearly every sector of the economy has been hit with employment problems, and the tuition program is aimed at all employees - full time, part time, and seasonal.

"We always feel like 70% of our leadership should come from within, plus it's a great recruitment tool," said Pink Jeep Tours President John Fitzgibbons. "It's another way to help develop our employees for the future. It's all about making them better."

In a time when companies try to figure out how to keep employees or get them back, experts say it can come down to culture.

"Employees are looking not just for incentives. They’re looking for the right culture, where they fit," said Roger Hurni with Off Madison Avenue Marketing Agency. "What the global pandemic has taught them is they can be pickier. They can be choosier about where they go."

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