Millennials Desperate for Financial Stability, In Search of Employer Support to Get There

Millennials Desperate for Financial Stability, in Search of Employer Support to Get There
Women bearing the greatest burden when it comes to student loan debt

What do Millennials want? It's the question being asked in every executive suite and human resources office today. And for good reason - this group of workers, ages 18 to 35, will constitute the largest segment of the U.S. workforce as of this year[1]. They're also carrying significantly more student loan debt than past generations, impacting how they view the world and employment. As Baby Boomers move out and Millennials move in, a new study from EdAssist™ reveals the opportunities and benefits Millennials want most, and how employers can best cater to their needs.

Millennials Crushed by Student Loan Debt; Women Carrying the Biggest Burden

Often viewed as a generation looking for instant gratification, the study actually shows Millennials are motivated to achieve long-term financial well-being, with 70 percent already focused on retirement goals. This may be because Millennials are accountable for the majority of the country's total student loan debt, which currently sits at a whopping $1.2 trillion[2]. They expect employers' help in reducing this heavy debt burden and getting them on the road to financial stability. When asked specifically about employer expectations, one-in-three say they expect their employer to help repay existing student loans, while one-in-two expect financial support in paying for further education.

The issue of saving for the future is most acute for women of the Millennial generation:

  • Women in the survey are 50 percent more likely to carry student loan debt than men
  • Women with student loans are almost 50 percent more likely than men to feel defeated about their debt because it seems they will be unable to pay it off
  • And women are over 50 percent more likely than men with student loan debt to be attracted to an employer offering to repay student debt as part of their benefits package

Will Work for Knowledge

If financial stability is one ingredient to attracting and retaining Millennials, another is tangible learning opportunities.

  • If asked to choose between two similar jobs, nearly 60 percent would pick the job with strong potential for professional development over one with regular pay raises
  • An even higher percentage of those trying to pay off student loan debt (66 percent) would eschew regular pay raises in favor of a job with strong potential for professional development

It's no wonder Millennials are looking for on-the-job learning opportunities, 72 percent feel their schooling did not effectively prepare them for the workforce.

  • Only 20 percent of 18-23-year-olds are confident that the formal education they received prepared them for their job
  • 58 percent of Millennials expect employers to provide them with learning opportunities relevant to their job
  • Only 26 percent feel their employers are actually invested in their professional development

"Millennials have just witnessed one of the greatest recessions in our history, with some of the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression, and on top of that they are riddled with debt. They're trying their best to be responsible, and as part of this, they are putting increased pressure on employers to help them ensure a bright and secure future," said Mark Ward, vice president, EdAssist. "The total cost of replacing an employee today can be up to 200 percent of that employee's annual salary[3]. We know from our work with some of the world's leading employers that those who support Millennial workers with professional development opportunities, and partner with them on planning financially for the future, reap significant business returns."Millennials are even willing to make personal sacrifices to learn while working, with many saying they would spend half as much time watching TV (52 percent); on the Internet (48 percent); on social media (45 percent); and with friends (34 percent); and would give up vacations for the duration of their program (31 percent) to take classes while working.

Forget the Typecast: Millennials Pledge their Allegiance… to the Right Employers

When asked what would make them stay longer than planned at any given job, 53 percent of respondents from this 'learning generation' say it would be learning new things or having access to learning or professional development opportunities, while the same amount say it would be a healthy work-life balance, a benefit that has been well-documented in other research as deeply appreciated by Millennials.

For employers that cater to these needs, Millennials see value in loyalty. Eighty-three percent say they would prefer to work for one company for a long time, while more than half (51 percent) of Millennials working today imagine they will stay at their current jobs for four years or longer, if not until they retire.

***Infographics available upon request

About EdAssist

EdAssist™ is a Bright Horizons® Solution at Work and a leading provider of comprehensive managed education solutions, helping companies and their employees maximize their education assistance resources through individualized education and financial advising, expert administration, and a robust network of fully accredited educational institutions.  EdAssist clients represent a wide range of industries, such as healthcare, insurance, financial services, telecommunications, aerospace, high technology, consulting, and manufacturing.


[1] This year, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers. (2015, January 16). Retrieved March 26, 2015.

[2] Study analyzes student loan trends. (2015, January 1). Retrieved March 30, 2015.

[3] Cascio, W.F. 2006. Managing Human Resources: Productivity, Quality of Work Life, Profits (7th ed.). Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin/McGraw-Hill. Mitchell, T.R., Holtom, B.C., & Lee, T.W. 2001. How to keep your best employees: Developing an effective retention policy. Academy of Management Executive,15, 96-108.