If you’re in a company that’s always competing for the latest and greatest talent pool of new employees, then you know how hard it is to stand out from the others. Maybe your company makes an amazing product, maybe you have an extremely charismatic CEO, or maybe you offer an employee benefit that nobody else offers, yet everyone seems to want. In the never-ending search for the hot new employee benefit, it appears that student loan repayment is the winner.
According to an article titled, “Employees clamoring for student debt benefit,” in Employee Benefit News, a study found that employees between the ages of 22 and 33 said the benefit not only helps them financially, but also increases their motivation and loyalty to the company offering the benefit. In fact, behind health insurance and a matching 401(k) contributions, student loan repayment had the next highest importance for job seekers.
Furthermore, the study found that a whopping 86 percent of employees said that if their employer helped pay off their student loans, then they’d stay with the company for at least five years. That’s a job-hopping killer statement right there. Admittedly, not all companies can implement this benefit, but what they can offer is student loan counseling as a way to help reduce the burden, or present financial options that an employee with student loan debt may not have considered.
So, just how big is this problem? According to American Student Assistance, there is $1.3 trillion (yes, with a “T”) in student loan debt in the U.S. with more than 44 million borrowers. Whew! And this burden is worrying the workforce, which is having an impact on the job performance of employees who stress about carrying a student loan. What might be surprising is that it’s not just recent graduates who are concerned about repaying these loans.
While it’s true that these recent grads are impacted the most by their student loans, there are older Americans who still have college debt (undergraduate or graduate), and there are some employees who worry about how they’re going to pay for their children’s education while continuing to fund their retirement plan. Regardless of their age, all employees can take advantage of this benefit in some way from an employer that offers it.