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Back-to-School with Educational Assistance Solutions

Back-to-School with Educational Assistance Solutions
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2021 by Kent Rausch
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Most employers wouldn’t have suspected it this time last year, but the race for talent is on again.

college-student-with-books-and-bag

As part of the “Great Resignation,” employees of all generations are reevaluating what work looks like—where to work (geographically) and what companies align with their personal ethos. The Monster.com report that cites 95% of employees are considering changing jobs is definitely keeping HR directors up at night. A Microsoft report is much more conservative, predicting 41% of employees are moving on within the year. Even if you “split middle,” that’s upwards of 70% who might be packing up a real or virtual desk with the hopes of greener grass with another organization.

How can you keep and attract the right employees?

 

According to Glassdoor, 48% of job seekers consider attractive benefits during their application process. Gone are the days when candidates just check off the “health plan” box, the 401(k) box, and call it a day. As employers get more savvy with their benefits dollars, candidates on the move are taking notice…and taking notes.

How can you enhance your benefits?

 

Getting the right line-up of benefits for your current and future population is also a challenge. Beyond your core benefits, aligning cost-effective and user-friendly benefits and then getting employees to take advantage of those benefits is the key to creating that elusive “perfect” mix.

And certainly, nothing is perfect—especially when you factor in 100 different healthcare needs, four generations in the work place, lingering questions about how, when, and whether to re-open offices. Essentially, COVID-19 has upended everything about work in the U.S., and the time is right to reevaluate for the future.

Benefits trends

 

There are a few key benefits trends taking shape. Mental Health support is the front-runner, as employers lean heavily on their EAP providers and look to point solutions to make sure employees have access to the care they need. In a 2021 Mercer report, 75% of employers ranked behavioral health benefits as the number one well-being priority. And, we know that feeding into mental health needs are financial health needs.

Financial strains can take a toll on workers’ mental state and ability to engage at work. A 2020 Willis Towers Watson study found “Employees in a better financial situation have higher engagement (46% vs. 24%) and lower presenteeism (12.7 days lost vs. 22.7 days lost) than those in a worsening financial position.”

In that Mercer report, running a close third place behind diabetes support, 48% of employers ranked financial well-being as a priority for 2021.

How to adjust the benefits line-up for shifting priorities

 

HR leaders have to monitor and adjust more than ever for the shifting needs due to the changing workforce landscape. As mental health and financial well-being take center stage, employees and candidates will take note of which organizations choose to prioritize these needs.

Financial wellness initiatives are rising to the top, as employers are finding new—and sometimes different—approaches to supporting employees for the short term, the longer term, and for the unknown. Whether it’s a goal account, creative lifestyle account, or even a post-tax dependent care program, employers have the capability to fund all kinds of reimbursement accounts through providers like MyChoice Accounts.

Employees aren’t a-loan in their needs

One of the rising stars of the financial wellness portfolio has become student loan repayment or reimbursement options. Statista reports that 8% of employers are currently offering a student loan program, but nearly 7 in 10 Millennials say a student loan repayment benefit would influence their job decision. There seems to be some catching up required to meet the needs of the largest generation of employees, as Millennials are on pace to comprise about 75% of the total workforce by 2025. Even with the CARES legislation and extension relieving most folks with debt until February 2022, there are still 44.7 million Americans who will be facing that debt again very soon at an average rate of about $36,000 – $54,000 per person.

Student loan programs can be suited to fit an employer’s strategy, whether it’s a proactive payment approach or a reactive reimbursement approach. Additionally, there are payroll tax exclusions for supporting this initiative, as the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) has extended employer tax relief under educational assistance programs through 2025. Employers can support up to $5,250 in student loan assistance per employee per year.

As more and more workers look for greener pastures, it’s possible a benefit like student loan programs can create a financial benefit that demonstrates employer empathy, contributes to financial wellness, and relieves stress all in one.

Get your LEARN on

MyChoice Accounts now offers a configurable student loan reimbursement program, alongside our tuition reimbursement programs. As we focus on getting our young people back-to-school, we can also support our workforce with paying back their educational expenses or gaining new skills through continued education. Check out our Education Assistance Solutions overview for more information.

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