Job Seekers Increasingly Aware of Employers Who Help Repay Student Loans

Staff Report

Friday, November 30th, 2018

The national burden of student debt is sparking interest in employer-sponsored benefits that offer relief. Nearly one-third of job seekers (31%) encounter companies offering student loan repayment benefits (SLRPs) during their search, according to a new survey from Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm.

As of November 2018, Americans have accumulated $1.4 trillion in student debt. High monthly student loan payments can leave employees unable to contribute to other benefits, like their 401(k).

Although only an estimated 4-5% of companies currently offer SLRPs, they are an emerging benefit that job seekers want and more companies should consider, experts say.

"This has to be a core recruitment and retention strategy going forward," said Matt Beecher, CEO of Vault, a software company that administers SLRPs. "The population that's impacted is huge."

Experts suggest SLRPs can boost employee loyalty, thus curbing turnover and reducing costs associated with recruiting and training new employees.

Statistics indicate that women, minorities, and other marginalized groups are disproportionately impacted by student debt, so offering SLRPs also can boost diversity.

Job Seekers Primarily Want Higher Pay and Better Benefits

Companies must offer competitive pay and benefits or risk their employees leaving to work elsewhere.

Approximately one-third of job seekers (32%) say they're actively looking for opportunities with better pay and/or benefits.

"Once someone finds out they're underpaid, they're no longer your employee," said Katie Donovan, an equal pay expert who founded Equal Pay Negotiations LLC and helped author the Massachusetts Pay Equity Bill.

While the total value of a compensation package typically includes salary and benefits, the two are not equal.

More job seekers (31%) say they would accept a job offering a higher salary, compared to 10% who say benefits are the most important factor in their employment decision.

Despite reports that younger generations value "purpose over pay," job seekers of all generations are equally likely to value pay over other factors, according to the new data.

Overall, just 5% of job seekers rank company mission above other factors, with only 4% of millennials saying mission matters most.

Job Seekers Also Want Flexibility, Professional Development

Job seekers also want perks that improve their quality of life and advance their career goals.

Scheduling or location flexibility is an appealing perk: 11% of job seekers say flexibility is the most important consideration – but 13% of women surveyed rank it first, compared to only 8% of men.

Nearly one in five job seekers (18%) are looking for professional development and growth opportunities such as certifications and mentorships.

The survey findings indicate that companies that offer flexible work options and professional development have an advantage in recruitment.

Clutch's 2018 Recruiting Survey included 507 full-time employees who started a new job in the past 6 months.