When it comes to student loan debt, the technology industry is in a unique position. Workers in tech are reporting that they hold more debt than those in any other industry. At the same time, more tech industry human resources executives are looking to implement plans that address this debt. As a result, the scope of student debt and financial well-being in this industry are poised to change for the better.
CommonBond's new white paper, "The Missing Benefit in Financial Wellness," offers new insight into the growing student debt crisis in the U.S. By surveying 1,500 employees and 500 human resources executives across five industries, including technology, CommonBond was able not only to chart trends in student debt, but also to identify ways human resources executives can best tailor their financial wellness benefits strategy to address this growing challenge.
Debt: A Necessary Step?
Of the five industries that CommonBond analyzed, workers in the tech industry reported having student loan debt at the highest rates—outpacing all other industries' employees surveyed. More than half of the tech workers who were surveyed—57 percent currently have outstanding debt, either for their own educations or for those of family members. Likewise, a survey-high 65 percent of those with debt reported having taken out more than $50,000 for school.
Why were these numbers so high for the tech industry, specifically? Tech jobs are competitive, and can require advanced degrees and certifications. As such, tech-minded workers may see higher education, particularly graduate degrees, as an unavoidable step on their career paths.
Human Resources Departments Understand the Changing Landscape
Increasing numbers of workers across all industries believe that their employers have the responsibility to offer them benefit plans that address overall financial well-being. Tech employees in particular feel that their employers should be helping them with their financial wellness—77 percent said as much, which tied for first place among the industries surveyed. Human resources executives working in tech recognize that need, with a survey-high 98 percent agreeing with those employees. Ninety percent of tech industry human resources executives report that their company provides financial wellness benefits (also a high for the survey).
The future of student loan benefits in the tech industry also looks bright, as 85 percent of respondents in human resources reported that they're planning on enhancing financial wellness benefits in the next three years. This number was, by far, the highest of any of the five industries surveyed. By that logic, though, companies not looking into student loan benefits risk falling behind their competitors.
Workers in tech welcome such implementations. With 81 percent of tech employees who either currently have student debt or are planning to take out loans within five years responding that they want their employers to offer student loan resources and tools, it's clear the benefits are in demand on both sides. Such programs can bridge the gap between the percentage of tech employees who think their employers are offering cutting-edge benefits (61) and the percentage of human resources executives who feel the same way (91).
The Right Implementation Makes the Difference
Though the level of student debt among workers in the tech industry is high, the fact that so many human resources executives are making solutions a priority demonstrates that the issue of student debt can no longer be ignored. In order to offer employees a program that has the maximum impact, though, it's critical for decision makers in human resources departments to choose a capable benefit provider. With the right partner and an informed approach, human resources executives in tech can truly assist in their employees' financial wellness.