Should employers take on student debt?

One industry commentator says companies stand to gain if they help recent grads out with their repayments.

Should employers take on student debt?
For thousands of workers, student loan debt can be a crippling burden that they’d gladly escape from so it’s no surprise that a recent study revealed many young grads would like to see reimbursement perks alongside the standard workplace benefits such as healthcare and vacation.
In the U.S., healthcare wasn’t a prominent workplace offering until the 1940s when a shortage of workers at home, coupled with an inability to raise wages, forced employers to come up with alternative solutions in order to attract and retain their workforce.
Health insurance was the answer.
The flexibility of hiring budgets will always reflect world events and the state of the economy. Companies can’t always rely on salary as the single-most attractive offering to job seekers. The most common workaround is not to entice workers by bolstering their weekly paychecks, but by offering fringe benefits that alleviate other ailments in their life – financial, emotional, or otherwise.
Today’s employers have tried to innovate by offering everything from simple perks (such as on-site spa and laundry services) to more inventive benefits (such as unlimited paid time off and paid time off to volunteer).
Though these perks are nice to have, companies might find success in attracting talent by setting their sights on what pains many job seekers nationally: settling student loan debt.
Conducted by Beyond, a recent survey of more than 5,000 U.S. jobseekers found that, of those with debt, nearly one-third owed more than $35,000, with 20 per cent stating that student loans regularly impact their ability to pay living expenses.
Some companies have addressed this prevalent concern by way of student loan repayment offerings. According to the survey, more than 67 percent of respondents with debt said they would be willing to accept a job that offered student loan repayment, and 81 percent claimed they would be willing to stay with a company if it meant losing student loan repayment.
Companies willing to hop on this emerging trend might find this as a way to attract and retain valuable employees in 2016 and beyond.
Although the demand exists, only a small number of organizations offer student loan repayment as a basic perk. For now, the fact that it’s being offered at all is a sign of the times, with many workers prioritizing their debts over traveling the world.
And with that, other workplace benefits lose some value. After all, unlimited paid time off for vacation is insignificant if you have limited funds to take one at all.
Written by Joe Weinlick, SVP of Marketing at Beyond, The Career Network

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