You finally pushed through an FSA and you lowered healthcare costs. With all the work that went into those negotiations, why are employees still underwhelmed with your benefits?

As the economy grows, employee benefits have become extremely important in attracting and, more importantly, retaining employees. Health benefits such as health insurance, disability, and life insurance are considered standard. Financial wellness benefits such as 401(k) plans are often considered a given for a professional position. However, college-educated employees are increasingly calling for benefits that have a more immediate and direct benefit.

More than 40 million Americans have an average of $35,000 of student loan debt when they graduate from college. This debt weighs heavily on millennial employees, who are the most debt-burdened generation to enter the workforce. Because of this burden, some employees may have trouble valuing or contributing to a 401(k) when they have immediate debt to deal with.  This is highlighted by our recent survey amongst student loan borrowers. We found that almost half of respondents would prefer a student loan benefit over a 401(k) plan.

What benefits can you provide value for debt-ridden employees? Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents with student loan debt said they would like to work for a company that offers repayment assistance. By offering a matching contribution on their student loan payment, you show employees you are committed to their long-term financial success.

If your organization isn’t ready to make a contribution, don’t worry. There are other ways you can help employees tackle their student loan debt. Student loan management tools can be an incredibly useful option, considering more than 70 percent of our survey respondents felt that paying back student loans is more difficult than it needs to be. Student loan management tools help employees gain the knowledge they need to optimize their repayment.

Another added benefit to employees with student loan management tools is free loan counseling services. Close to half of those with student loans aren’t receiving any form of repayment counseling, yet most borrowers need it. At iontuition, we offer counseling services via telephone, email and web chat, making it easy for employees to get the help they need when they need it.  With 2.2 million still struggling to pay their student loans, college graduates need the support.

If they don’t get the support from your organization, they could start looking for other opportunities. In 2014, the Washington Post found that the number one reason that an employee would be willing to switch jobs was better compensation or benefits.

“They know that they can get increases in their salary but the benefits are never going to get better,” Robert Half International manager Scott Shorr told the Delaware Business Times in April. “Depending on who they have to take care of, sometimes they’ll weigh the benefits and take less salary.”

Employers need to show loyalty to their staff by offering a benefits package that can fit all the needs of their employees. By giving them access to tools that will let them take control of their personal finances, you help reduce the stress that can affect them and your company. Not only does it help your bottom line, but it proves you support your employees.