Posted November 27, 2017
Hiring talented workers can be a challenging task for many employers, and retaining them can be just as daunting. Many people today are looking for employers that offer growth opportunities, show appreciation for workers’ contributions and provide contemporary benefits, such as assistance in repaying student loans.
Embracing the challenge
Nelnet is one employer that is embracing the challenge. In addition to creating an encouraging and supportive work environment, Nelnet offers robust benefits to assist employees with health and personal needs, including an employer-funded student loan repayment and 529 college savings program. With headquarters in Lincoln, Neb., Nelnet is a diversified education payments and technology provider.
“We care about the issues our employees face,” says Wendi Beck, Nelnet’s director of benefits, compensation, payroll and wellness. “We offer programs that help employees in many areas, such as their physical, professional, personal and financial well-being. Studies show that addressing these needs helps employees become more engaged and satisfied with their work.”
Nationally, businesses have become more aware of employees’ financial burdens. At least 64 percent of employees, especially parents and young adults, experience financial stress, reports the American Psychological Association. This is why Nelnet offers financial wellness programs to help address employees’ concerns, such as educational webinars on managing money and developing a budget, matching contributions to 401k plans and assistance with tuition costs. Recently, Nelnet added a new progressive benefit option, called BenefitEd, for qualifying employees.
BenefitEd is a student loan reimbursement benefits program created by Ameritas and Nelnet for employers nationwide. With this benefit, employers can make contributions to help employees pay off student loans or save for college tuition expenses through a 529 contribution plan.
Currently, about 44 million American adults owe a combined total of $1.34 trillion for college loans. At least seven out of 10 students who graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree have student loan debt. On average, individuals pay about $350 a month toward their college loans.
“We know that many employees with student loan debts live paycheck to paycheck and are not able to make contributions to 401k plans that could help them prepare for retirement, reports Dixie Potter, manager of payroll and benefits at Nelnet.
Recruitment and retention tool
About 5 percent of American employers currently offer a student loan reimbursement program, such as BenefitEd, making it an original recruitment and retention tool that can help companies stand out to job seekers.
“We believe the BenefitEd program helps us stand out from competitors. It’s the bow that tops our benefits package,” Beck explains. “It’s also a program that is easy to set up and administer.”
Nelnet currently offers the BenefitEd program to employees in select departments who meet eligibility requirements. About 80 percent of those who qualify for the program enroll in the benefit. Responses from a recent employee benefits survey show that Nelnet employees appreciate BenefitEd and want to make sure the company continues to offer it.
“Employers make a significant investment in hiring quality associates,” Potter adds. “Providing an innovative plan like BenefitEd makes it easier to keep employees on the job.”