Are Student Loan Repayments the New Killer Perk?

Published: Dec 09, 2015

 CSR       Education       MBA       Salary & Benefits       Workplace Issues       
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Whoever is doing PR for Natixis Global Asset Management should get a holiday bonus: a new employment perk aimed at millennials has earned the firm more positive press this week than any HR-related story since that guy who set his firm's minimum wage at $70,000.

In case you missed it: Natixis announced that it was going to start contributing up to $10,000 towards student loan debt for every employee who had been at the firm for at least five years.

In a press release announcing the new policy, John Hailer, Natixis' President & CEO, noted that the decision came out of conversations with Millennials in the company:  "In addition to hearing firsthand from our younger employees about the toll student debt can take on other financial obligations – such as saving for retirement – our extensive research on Americans' financial health supports the need to provide student loan repayment as a benefit."

Which sounds great, and all—until you actually look at the details of what's being proposed.

See that "up to $10,000" wording up there in the second paragraph? Turns out that the full $10,000 is only paid to employees who stay with the firm for a full decade—a new hire is eligible for a $5,000 payment after five years, and a further $1,000 a year for every year thereafter, until they hit the decade mark.

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade—especially when it comes to paying down student debt, which is reaching proportions that can legitimately be called a crisis—but this smacks much more of a PR move than a genuine attempt to do anything worthwhile about the problem.

Here's why:

It has long been known that millennials are job-promiscuous—your average 25 to 34 year old will only stay in the same workplace for 3 years. And with good reason: the longer you stay at a company, the more likely you are to be underpaid.

So the chances are that anyone who sticks around long enough to earn even the 5-year loan payoff bonus would have been better off doing the standard 18-24 month rotation before leveraging their experience for a raise elsewhere.

Who knows: maybe this is going to persuade people to stay at the company for the long haul—but I doubt it.

What’s your take? Let us know in the comments below.


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