Hello? Anybody in HR Seeing Young Workers’ Money Stress?
By Kevin Mercadante
March 8, 2017
Most college students with loans worry about their ability to repay. For many, worries turn to something closer to fear once they are in their career and the bills start arriving. Yet human resources personnel often seem oblivious to their concerns.
That’s a toxic disconnect. Money stress is a major cause of absenteeism and flagging productivity at the office. What good is hiring young talent only to lose their focus to financial duress?
Some 56% of young workers worry about their student debts often or all the time, according to a survey from American Student Assistance. In contrast, just 14% of HR managers believe young workers worry about their student loans all the time.
This divide is making it more difficult for employers to retain their young hires. For example, 86% of young workers say they would commit to their employer for five years if that employer helped pay off their student loans. Some 63% say they have no one to turn to for help. They would value learning about financial literacy at work.
Meanwhile, three-quarters of HR personnel say their companies offer no guidance or assistance for student loan debt, according to the survey. Among other findings:
56% of young workers say paying off student loans comes first; they will worry about saving for retirement later.
44% say they have no idea how they will pay back their loans.
40% say they worry that their student loans are hurting their health.
51% rate student loan repayment as important workplace benefit, a level exceeded only by health insurance and a 401(k) match.
61% think of themselves as financially illiterate.
What specific benefits would Millennials find attractive? According to the survey: 93% would like a sign-on bonus directed at loan repayment; 92% value a 401(k) match; 89% would value long-term financial planning; 82% would value financial literacy training; and 79% would value free access to a professional money counselor.
If this sounds like a ransom list, consider that Millennials are the first generation to leave school with so much debt. More than 40 million Americans have student loans, including 70% of those holding bachelor’s degrees. The total amount owed is more than $1.4 trillion, averaging more than $37,000 per borrower.
Companies that want to keep and get the most out their young hires cannot afford to underestimate their student debt concerns.