I Want To Provide Student Loan Repayment Assistance To My Employees

How the Employer Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program Can Benefit Every Single Employee in Your Company

I’ve come to think of the employer student loan repayment assistance program as a kind of reward system.  It’s positive reinforcement of specific employee habits and behaviors.  Or at least it can be tailored that way.  Structuring the program is all about setting specific limits to achieve the desired effect (as opposed to leaving it open for all employees to participate).  However, a curious issue presents itself when you open eligibility to certain subsets of employees and not others: non-eligible employees may get discouraged.  Such an effect runs contrary to why we are implementing the employer student loan repayment assistance program to begin with!

The three broad areas that the employer student loan repayment assistance program can address are recruitment, retention, and engagement.  All structuring options fall within one of these areas.  For example, opening eligibility to employees within a certain department – say, sales – is a recruitment tactic for that department.  But, what about the other departments?  Imagine how you might feel knowing that sales representatives have access to this awesome benefit but you don’t.  You might be pretty peeved.  I wouldn’t blame you.  After all, every single employee matters and is instrumental in achieving success as a company.  Shouldn’t every employee, then, have the opportunity to get excited about this cool new benefit?

Fortunately, there are a few easy things you can do to make sure that everyone in your company has that opportunity.

Layering Structures for the Employer Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program

In order to avoid resentment and discouragement among employees, it might be a good idea to couple the recruitment-focused structure with an engagement strategy.  For example, you can still incentivize growth within your sales department by opening up eligibility to that department.  But, you can also simultaneously set up a performance-based eligibility structure for employees outside of the sales department.

The precise eligibility requirements of these accompanying performance-based structures can vary according to the department.  IT folks can earn access to the benefit if they do a good job fixing computer issues.  Finance people can earn it by accurately counting the money.  I’m oversimplifying, but you get the idea.  By layering structures in this way, no employee will feel like the employer student loan repayment assistance program is ever out of their reach.  They can always strive to earn the benefit.

Family Eligibility

Some employees simply don’t have student loan debt (lucky).  How do you keep these employees from feeling isolated from the program?  By opening up eligibility to family members of employees, these people can still receive the benefit.

Let’s think about this: your mom or dad works with some corporation that offers an employer student loan repayment assistance program.  They themselves don’t have student loan debt, but you do.  They can opt to receive the benefit and have all contributions made to your student loan debt accounts.  Every day, they can go to work feeling good about the fact that they are doing something beneficial for their family.

Honestly, this structure probably isn’t for everyone.  Not every employee will feel the need to sign up for this type of program.  But, that’s almost beside the point.  The important thing is that they feel included – that they feel part of a blossoming company culture.  It’s a lot easier to feel that way when you are eligible to receive the benefit, even if you don’t actually opt to receive it.

Donation Program

You’ve heard about employees donating their sick leave to employees in dire medical emergencies, where the sick employee has used up all of their leave.  Such programs foster a sense of community and camaraderie among employees.  They also help you, the employer, retain top talent even in the midst of personal circumstances that might otherwise prompt an employee to quit their job.  Applying this same concept to the employer student loan repayment assistance program enables you to leverage the program to include those employees who wouldn’t otherwise receive the benefit.

Final Thoughts

There is a larger point to the employer student loan repayment assistance program.  It affects not only the employees who receive the benefit but the rest of the company as well.  It’s all in how you implement and structure it.  The program has the potential to revitalize your company culture.  People who don’t even receive the benefit can still, well, benefit.  Overall, the program reinforces the notion that yours is a company that cares about its employees.  That leaves everyone feeling good.

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