I Want To Provide Student Loan Repayment Assistance To My Employees

How Employer Student Loan Repayment Assistance Programs Can Help Your Business (Part 2 of 3) 🤝

In our last article, we discussed how student loan debt affects morale.  We saw how employer student loan repayment assistance programs can help you motivate current employees.  Now, we turn our attention to what this type of program can do for your recruiting efforts with prospective employees. 

Attract Top Talent and Stay Competitive

The Basics of Recruitment

There are certain things that prospective hires have just come to expect in a worthwhile job offer.  Must-haves, so to speak.

Competitive pay is number one.  The MRI Network 2017 Recruiter Sentiment Study also lists an emphasis on work-life balance, advancement opportunities, and a collaborative environment as key motivating factors in the job search.  And according to a Glassdoor survey, a top-notch benefits package and a positive company reputation are also key features that prospective employees have come to expect in an ideal job offer.

So let’s say you have all that going for you as an employer.  You offer a competitive salary, benefits are good, and developing the company culture is a top priority.  Great.  You should have all of those things.

That still doesn’t necessarily differentiate you from the competition.  It is expected of you to offer those things.  But, what are you doing to stand out?

Above and Beyond: Standing Out as a Top Employer in a Job Seekers’ Market

Think about it this way: the unemployment rate right now in the United States is only 4.1%.  That’s pretty low.  It’s a total job seeker’s market out there.  What does that mean exactly?  Simply put, there are more jobs out there to fill than there are active job seekers.  Employers have to step up their game in order to attract the best passive job seeking candidates.  Your goal, then, becomes to woo top talent away from your competition.

Enter employer student loan repayment assistance programs to save the day!

Out of all the new graduates that emerge from colleges and universities every year, 70% graduate with an average student loan debt of $37,000.  80% of these students with student loan debt are looking for assistance from employers.  In fact, over 80% of these emerging graduates said they would commit to working for a company for 5 years if they offered a student loan repayment assistance program.

Right now, only 4% of employers in America offer student loan repayment assistance benefits.  That number is expected to skyrocket in the coming years, as companies catch wind of what a powerful differentiator it is.  We are talking about something that more than half of all new graduates entering the workforce want and value, but that only 4% of the companies in the United States currently offer.

Talk about an opportunity to stand out!

Student loan repayment assistance speaks directly to the heart of some of the most highly educated, top-quality candidates in the market.  In our last blog article, we talked about the tightrope effect and how candidates with student loan payments due feel burdened by their debts.  Imagine what just a $50 or $100 monthly contribution feels like to someone walking a financial tightrope.

Prospective candidates notice that kind of thing.  Benefits programs like this one become part of your employment brand.

Beating the Competition to the Punch

I’ve worked with recruiters and HR directors around the nation to assist them with their recruiting campaigns.  Often, these people are so narrowly focused on the quick acquisition of candidates for their requisitions that they neglect to do the necessary branding that makes people want to apply to the job in the first place.  They think a quick Monster posting or job ad will suffice.  Some, bless their hearts, rely solely on Craigslist ads to advertise their openings!

Competition is fierce out there.  If you take just one thing away from this article, take that.  Think about how many companies are out there looking for the exact same type of candidate that you are looking for.  Branding makes it so much easier to sell yourself as an employer to top talent.  It’s sales 101, really – going back to the fundamentals of the sales funnel.  Step one is awareness.  How does the talent pool out there perceive what it is like to work for your company?

Fortunately, the data is in on what people actually think about employer student loan repayment assistance programs.  It says something pretty profound about your company when you implement this program within your HR structure.  That you are a good company to work for.

It says that you are on their side.

How Student Loan Repayment Assistance Programs Affect Retention Rates

But, don’t take my word for it.  Let’s look at the numbers.  Student Loan Hero reports that 62% of job seekers consider a student loan repayment assistance program important to them in a job offer.  Student loan repayment assistance is so important to the modern workforce that, in a poll of 1,000 professionals by IonTuition, a majority of respondents said they preferred employer student loan repayment assistance programs to other traditional benefits programs like a 401(k) or even health care.

To further illustrate this point, we turn to a Glassdoor survey, which found that 89% of workers age 18 to 34 prefer benefits over a pay raise.  People ages 35 to 44 were 84% more likely to prefer benefits over a pay raise.

That’s kind of a huge deal.  The numbers here really speak for themselves and tell you exactly what millennials want in a job.

As we explore the ways in which an employer student loan repayment assistance program can benefit your company, I think it is important to keep in mind the following term: employer value proposition. 

That term has been used a lot in the past few years.  It’s a useful way of evaluating a recruitment strategy.  The concept itself is closely tied to branding.  Basically, an EVP refers to the set of offerings, including employee benefits, which attract an external job-seeking audience to your company. 

International employer brand strategist, Brett Minchington identifies three criteria to determine whether an EVP can effectively attract, engage, and retain top talent within the market: it must be unique, relevant, and compelling.  Think about how the numbers presented in this blog might reveal these benefits programs to be all of those things. 

In our next blog article, we will be taking a look at how an employer student loan repayment benefits program can save you money by helping you to reduce employee turnover within your company. 


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