Contrary to popular belief, millennials want more than flexible work hours and fresh coffee at their offices. A recent survey suggests that 60 percent of millennials don't think they'll be able to pay off their student loan debt until they're well into their 40s, and they're hoping employers will lend a hand. In fact, those with student loan debt would stay at a company 36 percent longer if it offered student loan repayment assistance.
Millennial college graduates spend close to one-fifth of their annual salaries on student loan repayment, according to a recent report by Citizens Bank. In fact, more Americans are burdened with student loan debt than ever before, with millennials, in particular, owing a staggering sum — over $1.48 trillion spread out among about 44 million borrowers, according to Student Loan Hero. That's $620 million more than U.S. credit card debt, as graduates today find themselves with $39,400 in student loans on average. One in six graduates owes more than his or her annual incomes, and about 2.5 million Americans have student debt in excess of $100,000.
Student loan debt has gotten so hefty that two-thirds of millennials aren’t saving for retirement, largely because student loan debt is a more pressing financial concern. And the American Association of University Women found that women typically have larger student loans than men.
But companies can retain millennial talent, and especially millennial women, if they offer some loan relief.
Some companies are making moves, such as the healthcare company Abbott, which is offering its employees a new student loan/401(k) program. Recently, Abbott announced the launch of a new benefit, the Freedom 2 Save program, that will help employees pay off their loans. If employees can put two percent toward paying down their student loans, Abbott will match it with a deposit into their 401(k) accounts.
Other companies, like Penguin Random House, also have systems in place. As of the beginning of 2017, full-time Penguin Random House employees who’ve been with the publisher for at least one year are entitled to up to $1,200 per year for their student loans. Healthcare company Aetna offers tuition reimbursement and student loan repayment with an offer of $2,000 per year and a lifetime maximum of $10,000 for full-time employees, and $1,000 per year and a lifetime maximum of $5,000 for part-time employees.
Adding student loan repayment assistance to benefits packages is a wise move for those looking to increase retention. For more resources on how to retain millennial talent, be sure to check out Fairygodboss' top tips:
- 4 Tips for Managing Millennials in the Most Effective Way
- The No. 1 Thing That Causes Millennial Employees to Quit
- What Millennials Want at Work
- Almost One-Third of Millennials Quit Their First Jobs in Less Than a Year
- If Companies Are Smart, They'll Offer This To Millennials
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.