The socially forward thinking workplaces of America are coming up with new benefits for their employees. Student loan reimbursements, housing assistance, and longer parental leaves are just a handful of these trendy, attractive, perks. Craig Dolezal, senior vice president at the human resources consultancy Aon Hewitt, has stated that there is an increased interest in life planning accounts.
Employers would fund these taxable accounts with money that workers could use to spend on certain expenses. Approved expenses could be student loan payments, home closing costs, a child’s college fund, or even a gym membership.
An account like this puts employers in a position of power by seemingly offering a wide array of benefits that this account can be used for. This protects the company from actually having to pony up for a premium package of benefits. Taking this approach can deter millennials, specifically, who are expecting more and more benefits from their employers to offset high salaries. This year, the Society for Human Resource Management surveyed its members on 350 benefits; 10 years ago, it asked about 219, and 20 years ago, just 60.
Meanwhile, companies like Fidelity and PricewaterhouseCoopers have added student loan relief as a perk in fear of potential generational backlash. Dolezal says that they think, “it feels like that’s an allocation of our company dollars to a very specific slice of our workforce.” While this statement is technically true, however, it is quite a big slice of the workforce pie.
There are over 40 million Americans that hold student loan debt. That is one in six adults in America that hold student loan debt. The average Class of 2016 graduate has $37.172 in student debt. That number is up 6% from last year. One company, Alltech Financial, is offering their services to businesses specifically to help their staff as a Student Loan Assistance Company. The company seems to be first of its kind and recognizes the growing desire for student debt relief. Such a service is becoming a must for companies today seeking and retaining qualified employees.