Spotlight on Aetna's Education Benefits

educational assistance

What’s the latest buzz in talent strategies? Education benefits are opportunities – and not just for employees.

That’s the takeaway from Aetna’s focus on education and student loan repayment -- answers to the talent shortage detailed in a 2018 Human Resources Executive cover story that are even more relevant today. Why? Simple: numbers. In an increasingly competitive talent market, organizations need to mine current employees for skills; but employees are too strapped by existing debt to finance them. Aetna shows when you address both problems, everybody wins.

“If you want to build the skills in your workforce and remain competitive in the war for talent, but your employees have this $30,000 to $100,000 barrier,” our own Patrick Donovan told HRE about why debt isn’t an employee-only issue, “now their debt becomes your problem.”

Some other key takeaways:

An uptick in numbers

Aetna was one of many top employers telling HRE about increased education budgets, with Aetna upping annual tuition assistance and student loan repayment to $5,000 and $2,000 respectively.

Built to fit culture and goals

The newly energized program was strategically designed to hit pain points, specifically time and money. “How do we help our employees get an education,” Aetna’s Vice President of Employee Benefits and Wellbeing Kay Mooney told the magazine about one of the company’s top goals, “without incurring debt.”

Taking on a $1.4 trillion problem

Employees aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit. A trillion-plus in debt hamstrings the economy as well as individual wallets, putting everything from purchasing power to home ownership at risk. That gives employers doubly good reasons to act. “Companies,” said Kay, “can do good and do well at the same time.”

Education Benefits: the Perspective of a Successful Employer

Addressing the talent problem from both sides of the equation (tuition and debt) is just smart business, said Patrick. And the business world is catching on.

“More employers are beginning to look at education benefits as a business solution. It’s a business strategy to attract and retain employees that are needed now and in the future,” he said.

“We looked at it this way,” said Kay about employees. “When they thrive, we thrive.”

Read the Human Resources Executive article, here.

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

Bright Horizons logo on yellow background

The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.