Hiring Millennials? Help Them Pay Off Their Student Loans
It’s a fact of life in our industry and in today’s overall economy that millennials are a growing percentage of the workforce. Their influence will expand as the years roll on. And as we’ve discussed before, knowing how to attract the most talented of their generation to your organization can be difficult. Their interests are different, their priorities are unique, and the things they value in a company often differ from traditional employees. But a small percentage of companies are beginning to offer a new way to increase their organizations’ viability with millennials, thus giving themselves a competitive advantage in the competition for young talent.
In a staggering picture of the exploding cost of higher education in America, it’s estimated that 70% of college graduates leave school with student loan debt. That number averages out to around $30,000 per graduate, but 20% of these individuals carry $100,000 or more in debt into their first forays into the workforce. Student loan debt, for millennials, is now a bigger problem than credit card or automobile debt and can be crippling for the first several years of an individual’s career.
Recognizing this problem, a small percentage of employers are beginning to offer student loan repayment assistance as an employee benefit in order to attract and retain young, talented college graduates. And it’s working. Companies offering this benefit have reported significant increases in the level of interest in joining their organization AND in the caliber of individuals who apply. Morale has gone up for current employees who have signed up for the program, and employers feel less concerned about their talent being pulled away by a competitor.
It isn’t difficult to see why these programs seem to be working. A recent study showed that by almost a 2:1 margin, millennials would rather their employer offer to help repay their student loans than spend the same amount on any other traditional benefit, such as a 401(k). And because there are still relatively few companies doing so, it gives the few who do offer this program an incredible advantage when it comes to recruiting the brightest young minds out there.
In our industry, hiring has never been more competitive and “building your bench” for the future has never been more important. Preparing your workforce for the future dictates that you position your organization to compete for the best and brightest millennial minds. Offering this benefit to help eliminate their student loan debt is absolutely one of the best ways to recruit and retain the kind of young employees you need. It’s not that expensive, and firms like Schaffer Associates can help you structure this program and market it to the talent pool in a way that gets immediate results. Call us today to get started.
Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Schaffer Associates is a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future.