Chattanooga human resources expert says empowering your team through a no-cost benefit makes manager a workplace hero

Photography courtesy of Merri Mai Williamson / Merri Mai Williamson
Photography courtesy of Merri Mai Williamson / Merri Mai Williamson

If you asked your fellow employees to name their hero, would it be you? What if approximately 15% of your coworkers had a possible reason to list you among their heroes?

You may recall that, back in June, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against the Biden administration's student loan forgiveness plan. That plan proposed to repay up to $10,000 towards a borrower's student loan debt, if they earned less than $125,000 annually. And students who received Pell Grants could receive up to $20,000 towards repaying their loans.

However, two court cases challenged the Biden plan, which led to a Supreme Court hearing in February. The High Court's decision put the full burden of student loan repayment right back on the shoulders of millions of Americans, when student loan repayments restart in October.

I am not here to advocate for any political stance. But as a human resources professional, my supreme responsibility is to the company AND its employees. It is my job to advocate for the employees, when it aligns with the company's goals.

I would argue that every company has a goal to attract and retain top talent. Often, the benefits package is a heavily weighted factor when candidates and employees are deciding whether to stay or go.

One of the most requested benefits in the last few years is student loan assistance, to the tune of 57%, according to data released by Betterment at Work. Even more telling is the percentage of employees who say they would leave their jobs for an employer who offered student loan benefits: a whopping 85%.

So, are you ready to put on your cape, your mask or your shield? Relax. All you have to do is introduce your employees to "SAVE" -- and it costs your company nothing!

Employees with student loan debt may now enroll in Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE), which is based on income and family size. Even better, debt could be forgiven if monthly payments are consistently made for a certain number of years.

In addition to providing an added no-cost benefit, your company may also realize higher productivity levels when employees relieve some of the stresses caused by student loan debt. Assisting employees with their financial well-being can also garner loyalty and retention.

Beyond "SAVE," you might consider other student loan repayment plans, which may be fully or partially administered by a third-party and could offer employees a payroll deduction, with a company match, if you wanted to expand your assistance to impacted employees. Currently, only eight percent of U.S. employers offer eligible employees some type of student loan repayment support, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Still need convincing?

Seventy-three percent of employees wish their employers would offer more financial wellness resources; and 68% indicated they would give up an extra week of vacation for financial wellness benefits such as coaching for retirement goals or bringing in an expert to talk about budgeting and reducing debt during 'lunch and learn' sessions.

Whatever you choose to do, start by informing your employees of the "SAVE" program and encourage them to enroll at

Then, wear your cape, mask or shield proudly, knowing that you have taken the first step in showing your employees that you care about their financial well-being!

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