What Benefits Do Millennials Crave Most?

While there are many benefits perks to be offered in the pursuit of attracting young talent, student debt relief apparently is one of the strongest draws of them all.

According to a recent survey from Austin, Texas-based Self Lender, a fintech startup, of the 1,000 American millennials polled, 60 percent of those with student debt would give up an existing benefit for debt repayment. The survey also found that:

  • One in four millennials would give up working from home, making it the most disposable benefit;
  • One-third of women would give up working from home compared to only one-fifth of men; and
  • The willingness to give up PTO for student-loan repayment decreases with age.

James Garvey, CEO of Self Lender, says the most likely factor in these findings is the rising amount of student debt, which stands just north of $1.5 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve.

“We were surprised to find that young workers would rather have help with student loan debt than any other employment benefit,” Garvey says.

Garvey says he was surprised to learn that working from home was the top benefit people are willing to forgo for student debt relief, adding that it was unexpected “given that flexibility and work/life balance are benefits that have become commonplace in today’s mobile world.”

The Self Lender survey also discovered that a meaningful proportion of the young workforce wants student debt forgiveness from their employers and are even willing to forgo their current benefits to get it. But does it really pay off to give up a benefit like 401k matching in lieu of student loan repayment?

Garvey explains that every individual is different based on the amount of student debt and their own personal finance goals. Employers that contribute $100 per month to student loans may help save a couple thousand dollars in interest over a span of the seven-year loan, according to NerdWallet. However, he says, for a person making $56,000 annually and contributing 6 percent monthly to a 401(k), employers can contribute roughly $15,000 with a standard 50-percent match over the same time period.

Student-loan debt can cause stress, drop credit scores and keep people financially behind, so it’s crucial to pay them off in a timely manner.

Garvey says employers have the power to alleviate some of the stress of student loans for their workers, although most aren’t currently offering any form of loan repayment.

“It’s clear that HR executives have a lot to reconsider when offering benefits packages in hopes of attracting satisfied, productive and happy workers,” he says. “And it’s exciting that employers can help solve this problem.”

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.