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This 1 Benefit Could Help You Attract Younger Employees

By Maurie Backman – Aug 20, 2019 at 8:18AM

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It's a perk that's been gaining traction, but is still fairly uncommon.

In today's competitive job market, attracting talent can be a challenge. And chances are, if you have roles to fill, you'll be looking at millennials as viable candidates.

Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce, and within the next two years, they're expected to constitute 50% of it. As such, it pays to cater to younger workers' unique needs, and in that regard, there's one specific benefit you should focus on.

Helping millennials dig out of student debt

Americans owe a collective $1.6 trillion in student loans, and more than 25% of that debt is held by borrowers under 30. Now that's not particularly surprising, but the problem is that many younger workers are struggling to keep up with their monthly loan payments.

Miniature graduation cap on a pile of $100 bills

Image source: Getty Images.

Though federal student loans offer borrowers some relief, like deferment or income-driven repayment plans, private loans don't have the same built-in remedies. The result? Many younger borrowers are drowning in student debt payments, and are putting off major life milestones -- like getting married, buying homes, or starting families -- because of it.

Some employers, however, are offering relief in the form of student loan repayment assistance programs. These programs have grown more popular in recent years, what with the student debt crisis coming to a head. An estimated 8% of U.S. employers offer assistance with student debt at present, which is more than twice the number of companies that had such programs in place in 2015, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Of course, student debt is by no means a problem for millennials alone. There are plenty of working adults in their 40s, 50s, and beyond who are still forced to grapple with loan payments. But it stands to reason that of all generations, student debt repayment assistance holds the most appeal among millennials. And that's why it pays to implement such a program at your place of work if you're looking to build your staff.

That said, student loan repayment assistance should come with some strings attached. In today's fickle market, job-hopping is practically the norm, and it's certainly a common practice among millennials. If you're going to offer your employees money toward student debt, make sure it results in a reasonable commitment. You could make this benefit contingent on a two-year term of employment at a minimum, for example. That way, anyone who jumps ship sooner risks having to pay back the money they were given to alleviate the burden of debt.

There are many different workplace perks you can offer to attract young talent. You can provide a generous 401(k) match, a robust vacation package, and a health insurance plan with affordable premiums and a wide range of coverage. But if you really want to set your business apart from the competition, think about incorporating a student loan repayment assistance program into your benefits package. Not only will prospective employees find it appealing, but it'll give your current employees one less thing to stress about. And that, in turn, could improve worker performance across the board.

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