As employers duke it out over hiring the best possible candidates, especially ones coming out of school, they are starting to get a little bit more creative with their incentive packages — and that includes offering an option for paying down student debt.
Goodly is a new startup that’s looking to help those employers offer that as a benefit. Smaller companies without the resources to create complicated incentive packages especially need tools that help shortcut the process of offering those benefits. It’s following a similar playbook of companies looking to make it easier to get the tools they need in place and focus more on the set of products that are going to make it an actually differentiated company. Goodly is launching out of Y Combinator’s summer class this year.
“We found it to be a really great tool for recruiting and retaining,” co-founder Gregory Poulin said. “When people hear student loan benefits, they instantly think it’s very expensive. You can offer student loan benefits starting $25 to $50 per employee per month, up to $200. Our system is completely flexible. You can offer any company size for any budget. You can offer meaningful benefit for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day. For the average borrower, when they have an employer contributing an extra $100 per months, it could help your average employee get out of debt almost a decade faster.”
There are more common benefits like stock packages, 401(k) matches, insurance, better time off policies, or others along those lines. But as student debt increasingly becomes a factor in a candidate’s decision on where they work, it’s another way that companies — ones without larger compensation packages or very aggressive recruiting operations like, say, Google or Facebook — can still get the attention and interest of good candidates coming out of school. Like other companies (like Human Interest for 401(k)s, for example), the goal is to make it easy to get started and maintain the whole process.
Employees connect their student loans to Goodly, which takes a few minutes to verify them before setting up the contribution plan. Goodly integrates with payroll operations and gives companies and employees a pretty flexible way to set their spending schedule. Then, it goes from there, without the employees having to manage it on a per-period basis. While it might have the robust tax incentives in place like a retirement plan, it’s still a way to help companies offer some way of showing employees that they’re invested in their employees’ future success, which is another way that those companies might be able to retain that talent. Goodly then brings back detailed reports on the company’s implementation to help it better understand whether the policies are working for their employees.
It’s certainly an area that’s attracted interest — and funding — from a number of startups like Tuition.io which look to help employers get a little more creative about their benefits. Much like contributions to retirement plans, it’s another way to offer employees a way to invest in their future by reducing the financial stress they have through some of their biggest financial decisions like where to go for college. Poulin also said it’s a way to help discover a more diverse talent pool as it surfaces up underrepresented parts of the population that are acutely dealing with student debt as a factor in their decision-making.
By Matthew Lynley