Careers in medicine represent the culmination of hard-earned goals for many, but they also can require advanced degrees that are among the most expensive to achieve. As a result, workers in healthcare and pharmaceuticals carry large amounts of student debt after graduation, making the need for benefits that address it a particularly effective way to attract and retain the best employees.
In conjunction with the new white paper "The Missing Benefit in Financial Wellness," CommonBond surveyed more than 1500 employees and 500 human resources executives in a variety of industries, including healthcare and pharmaceuticals. The results of the study prove that workers in medicine are anxiously awaiting a solution to their issues with student loan debt.
Big Debt, Big Demand
CommonBond's survey revealed that 45 percent of respondents in healthcare and pharmaceuticals currently carry student debt for their own educations. Of those who currently have debt, 55 percent initially took out at least $50,000 for school. This means that even in a high-paying industry, student debt lingers for years, and causes financial and emotional harm to those who carry it.
It comes as no surprise, then, that three quarters of employees in the healthcare and pharmaceuticals industry believe that their employers should take an active role in their financial wellness. More specifically, programs that address student loan debt are in particular demand: when asked what additional financial wellness benefit they would most want, 61 percent of employees with debt chose student loan benefits. This was the highest demand seen in any industry, meaning that workers in healthcare and pharmaceuticals recognize their debt and very much want to address it.
Giving employees a solution to their student debt woes is sure to help organizations, as well. Eighty-three percent of healthcare workers who either have debt or are planning on taking out loans said that they'd be more likely to accept a job that offered student loan repayment benefits and education tools. Seventy-eight percent said they would commit to staying in such a role for at least three years. It's clear that by offering such plans, companies would be taking a major step forward in terms of talent acquisition and retention.
How Are Human Resources Executives Responding?
With financial wellness such a concern to workers in the healthcare and pharmaceuticals industry, the onus falls on human resources executives to provide solutions. Unfortunately, supply is still catching up to demand. While 94 percent of human resources executives believe their companies should be taking an active role in their employees' financial well-being, just 65 percent—a low across industries' work at companies that currently offer benefits doing so. It's no coincidence that only 65 percent of human resources executives in healthcare and pharmaceuticals believe their companies are ahead of the curve when it comes to benefits offered.
Fortunately, a change looks to be coming. Sixty percent of the medical industry human resources executives surveyed reported that they were planning to enhance student loan benefits at their organizations within the next three years. That number ties with that of the retail industry for the second-highest in the survey. This offers a brighter outlook regarding the future of benefits in the industry, but it comes with a caveat: as more companies offer student loan benefits, hiring will get more competitive. Eventually, such benefits will become a prerequisite for finding top talent.
The Need to Act Now
Out of all of the industries CommonBond analyzed, the resulting data shows that healthcare and pharmaceutical employees need student loan benefits the most. It's critical that human resources executives follow through on their plans to help their employees in this area—and that those who haven't yet made plans consider doing so, seeing how much more desirable student loan benefits make medical employers. Before any more time passes, it is essential that healthcare and pharmaceutical companies expand their offerings to address this specific need.