by Jason Day, AIF®, Senior Client Manager – Oswald Financial, Inc.
With the unemployment rate at 3.6% (it’s lowest since December 1969), many employers are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain talented employees. Offering a higher salary than your competition is often not enough to lure new employees and retain existing ones. As a result, we are seeing more and more companies seeking creative ways to differentiate themselves in this tight and crowded labor market. One way employers can set themselves apart from the competition is by creating a benefits package that goes above and beyond the traditional health and retirement plan benefits that most companies offer. At Oswald Financial, we have identified several financial oriented benefits programs that we believe will add to your company’s compensation package in a way that is both meaningful and useful to your current and future employees.
I would like to share a few highlights of three of these programs with you today.
Student Loan Repayment Benefit
Recent studies show that 71% of students graduating from four-year colleges have student loan debt and the average monthly student loan payment is $393 (from studentloanhero.com). As tuitions at both public and private universities continue to skyrocket these numbers will only continue to rise. The solution we offer access to provides customized employer-assisted student loan repayment programs and college savings programs designed to help ease the financial stress caused by student loan debt. The program is easy to add to employee benefits packages and allows employers to identify employees eligible for the benefit as well as the amount they’ll contribute during the calendar year.
There are several different program designs, allowing the employer the flexibility to select and offer the option that best fits the company’s demographics, philosophy, and budget.
- Employee Choice Program – allows employees to use company match funds for student loan repayment which helps them to pay down their student loan debt but does not increase the employer’s benefit budget.
- Employer-assisted Student Loan Repayment Program – the employee makes their regular monthly student loan payment as usual. The employer then sends an additional contribution amount to the program provider, which is also applied as a payment to the employee’s student loan.
- Employer-assisted College Savings Program – the employer contributes to the employee’s 529 college savings plan.
Cash Back Towards Retirement
While most employees know that they need to save more for retirement, many wrestle with the balance between spending less and saving more. This cash-back program provides a new way for your employees to save for retirement. It is a financial platform that enables employees to save for their 401(k) or 403(b) while shopping at online and local retailers like Walmart, Target, and eBay. An employer who signs up for the program offers a unique benefit that gives their employees another avenue to save money for retirement. This is how the program works:
- Employer signs up to offer the cash-back program.
- Employees register on the program website by linking their Visa, Mastercard, or American Express credit or debit cards.
- When the employee makes a purchase at a participating retailer with their linked credit/debit card, the retailer pays the program provider a commission on the sale. The program then keeps 1% and deposits the remaining commission into the employee’s program account.
- Every quarter this program then sends the total cash back accrued to the employee via direct deposit and has an equal amount deducted from their next paycheck as an additional 401(k) deferral.
Identity Fraud Protection
In 2017 alone 16.7 million Americans experienced identity fraud resulting in $16.8 billion in losses (Javelin Strategy & Research). Most employers have employees that have been affected by identity theft resulting in lost productivity. Twenty two percent of identity theft victims had to take time off work to deal with the issue. A comprehensive identity protection program offers employee identity theft protection services like credit monitoring, financial transaction monitoring, fraud remediation and restoration, and dark web monitoring. The program can be offered as an employer paid or voluntary benefit with options to cover the employee only or the employee and their families. In addition to helping you attract and retain top talent, identity protection can help your company by decreasing employee absenteeism, boosting employee productivity, and reducing corporate litigation risks.
In summary, we believe that these three programs meet the needs of today’s employee and truly add meaningful value that will differentiate a company’s benefit package.
This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors, but is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax or legal advice.