Dollywood Will Always Love You
Doing the right thing and the smart thing: Dollywood Parks and Resorts, Dolly Parton’s theme park, will pay 100 percent of the tuition costs, fees, and books for employees who pursue higher education. The perk is available to employees starting on their first day of work and will be available to all seasonal, part-time, and full-time employees. The tuition coverage starts on February 24.
Especially in today’s tight labor market, businesses are offering educational benefits to attract and keep employees. Walmart said in July 2021 that it would pay for college tuition and books for its U.S. employees. Best Buy, Chipotle, and Home Depot cover up to $5,000 a year in tuition costs. They have to. They compete in high-turnover industries to begin with.
And in industries such as retail and entertainment, those employees are on the front lines representing the brand. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they’ve put their personal health and safety at risk, too.
The last time I visited Dollywood, I thought the park perfectly reflected Dolly Parton’s warm, personal brand. The employees were uniformly friendly. The entertainment was folksy, fun, and family oriented. (Which makes me wonder what it would be like to visit a theme park based on the Kanye West personal brand, but I digress.) Theme parks need employees to be at peak performance all the times. Patrons pay for an all-day experience that will make them forget their everyday worries, and they spend only a fraction of their time on rides. Most of their time is spent walking around, standing in lines, eating, and watching attractions — activities that put them in constant contact with theme park employees.
So, when Dollywood invests in its people, the business truly invests in its brand. Especially now as we continue to experience waves of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, theme park employees have even harder jobs. Dollywood understands the relationship between the treating your people well and treating your customers well.