Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. (NYSE: ANTM) has announced a new program to offer a free college education to its 55,000 eligible employees. The effort is a partnership with Southern New Hampshire University and involves associates and bachelor's degrees through the school's College for America partnership. Chief Human Relations Officer Jose Tomas says it builds on a pilot program launched in 2013 and is one of Anthem's “talent-retention tools.” He says the insurance provider is in “growth mode” and adds Anthem has seen a reduction for four straight quarters in total employee turnover as a result of this and other retention efforts.

Tomas says the pilot program was launched in 2013 and has proven successful. Initially nine interested employees participated and received associates degrees. The program expanded the following year and more than three dozen took advantage.

Tomas says the company explored several other programs, but the nonprofit SNHU was self-paced and the degrees aligned well with Anthem. He says the company prefers to have employees advance and prosper from within and this effort provides a “huge benefit” toward that goal.

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