Work benefits

Retail employees need student loan benefits, but companies have been slow to act

In Retail, Debt Is Pressing—So Is Demand for Benefits

Overall, the retail industry is greatly affected by student debt: 49 percent of retail employees CommonBond surveyed carry student debt, which puts it second place out of all industries surveyed (behind only the tech industry). Sixty percent of retail employees surveyed selected student loan benefits as their most-sought-after financial wellness benefit. This was also the second-highest number among industries analyzed, proving that the overall demand for benefits addressing student loan debt is higher than average in the retail industry.

These numbers prove the widespread nature of student debt in retail, and the priority it holds for employees in the industry. In light of them, it's no surprise that 77 percent of retail workers think their employers should take an active role in their financial well-being. The general state of affairs in the industry shows that companies have a great opportunity to address these very pressing concerns.

The Perception Gap

The biggest issue preventing retail organizations from helping their employees tackle their student loan debt is a failure to recognize just how serious the problem is, and how much more needs to be done to address it. Many human resources executives in retail think they're already doing an above-average job of ensuring employees' financial wellness.

Seventy percent of human resources executives in retail that CommonBond surveyed described their companies as ahead of the curve when it comes to benefits offered. By contrast, only 37 percent of retail workers said the same. Not only was this employee benefit satisfaction rate the lowest of any industry CommonBond analyzed, but the gulf between employees' and human resources representatives' opinions was the largest.

These statistics paint a clear picture: not only are retail workers dissatisfied with their benefits, but employers may not be aware of their dissatisfaction.

The Path to Action

Thankfully, there are many human resources executives who understand that benefits programs in the industry are lacking. Ninety-five percent of HR representatives surveyed felt as though their companies should take an active role in their financial well-being, but only 65 percent felt they worked at organizations that already do.

Retail employers who want to expand their benefits offerings have the opportunity to take steps that will help employees' financial well-being in the long run. It is encouraging that so many seem to know this and are planning to take action — for instance, sixty percent of human resources executives surveyed plan on enhancing student loan benefits in the next three years. This will allow them to address a key cause of financial concern.

What's Best for

There is a major opportunity for human resources teams in retail to help their employees with their financial wellness by offering student debt-related benefits. Companies that incorporate such programs will also be taking charge of their own futures by improving talent attraction and retention — 78 percent of workers with debt across all industries said they would be more inclined to accept a job that offered student loan repayment and education benefits, while 85 percent would commit to staying at their current jobs for three years if such benefits were offered.

Addressing the debt that so many employees must carry can be the next step toward updating benefits packages for the retail industry. To learn more about how you can incorporate such a program into your benefits offerings, check out "

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