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Employee Wellbeing

To Increase Productivity, Help Employees Understand Their Student Debt

Laurel Taylor


According to the PwC’s “2017 Employee Financial Wellness Survey,” 48 percent of stressed employees say that finances have been a distraction while at work. Fifty percent spend three or more hours at work each week thinking about or dealing with personal finance issues. That’s over 600 hours a year taken away unnecessarily from work. It’s also why employers who want to compete need to up their game and get creative about benefits packages.

Financial benefits at work​​​​​​​

Despite many employers offering generous 401(k) plans, retirement planning, healthcare coverage, maternity/paternity leave and even more exotic benefits such as egg freezing, lack of fiscal health due to student loan debt is oddly overlooked. How can employees focus on compound interest on wealth when they are confronting compound interest on student debt? How can employees engage in the traditional benefits stack — focused on wealth creation — when they are faced with one or more decades of compulsory payments for a decision made to land the very job currently offering plans for which the employee is opted out?

In the era of “Talent Wars,” empathy and alignment matters. The Society of Human Resources Management reports that the cost to replace employees is 90 to 200 percent. If companies can demonstrate to employees how much they care about meeting them where they are, they can reverse job-hopping trends more effectively than we’ve seen in decades. When this happens, benefits as a loyalty program become self-funding.

The influence of student debt

Employers have long known that benefits are not a one size fits all, but things like the student loan crisis are causing them to rethink the benefits stack entirely. Student loan debt is growing at $100 billion annually and student loan assistance or education has now become the top requested benefit of multiple demographics, but it is by no means the only financial stressor that better benefits can address. Employees disproportionately value the relief that benefits tailored to their needs can provide. Anything that moves them from a state of dis-ease, through a state of wellness, and forward to a state of wealth is a win for the company and the employee.

Laurel Taylor, Founder,, [email protected]

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