According to a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, the Index of Small Business Optimism is at its highest point since 1983. Earnings trends are at their highest point since 1987. The strong economy along with the lowest unemployment rates in 17 years have been good for the business sector. Many small business owners are looking to capitalize on strong sales by hiring new talent and growing their business. Unfortunately for hiring managers, the shrinking pool of job-seekers has made the market more competitive.

A high percentage of owners reported raising compensation in an effort to recruit more workers with plans to continue raising compensation amounts over the next 3 months. Despite offering higher wages, 34 percent of small business owners reported unfilled positions in both January and February of this year. Of owners currently hiring, 90 percent reported few or no qualified applicants.Survey Results of Small Business Owners: Hiring New Talent

Small Businesses Hiring New Talent Need to Offer the Right Benefits

Job seekers with applicable skills currently have the advantage of being in-demand by small businesses. Hiring managers need more than a hefty compensation package to reel in these talented applicants. More U.S. employers have reported plans to hire new graduates for 2018 to fill the need for newly created entry-level positions. Fresh college graduates (as well as many older graduates) have reported that they want employers to help them repay their student loan debt.

Implementing a student loan benefit for the purposes of hiring new talent has a high expected return on investment. IonTuition is an affordable solution that is scalable to companies of all sizes. The student loan benefit can be completely customized. Companies have the capability to set student loan contribution limits and offer higher contributions to employees that have remained with the company for many years, rewarding loyalty and retaining more employees. Furthermore, offering a financial wellness benefit has been proven to increase productivity.

Employees are more likely to remain at a company when they feel valued. Offering student loan benefits contributes to employee appreciation. According to the 2017 Pulse of Talent Report, work culture was reported as the top reason for remaining at a company, outranking salary and job security. With Millennials about to become 50 percent of the American workforce, and Generation Z graduating college with some of the largest student loan debts in history, the best choice for companies to recruit qualified talent in the competitive economy is to offer student loan repayment benefits.