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5 Tips for Spreading Holiday Cheer to Employees

December 18, 2018

The most wonderful time of year can often be the most confusing for employers looking to bring holiday cheer to the office. It’s usually a busy time for everyone and sometimes it can be a lot of work for not a lot of reward, but no need to bah-humbug. Here are some ideas, including the ever difficult to answer gifts for employees question.

Employee gifts

 

Gifts for employees change with the times because the economy is always changing and people’s preferences for the gifts they want to receive change. Some might think, a gift is a gift, when in fact nothing could be further than the truth. There are parameters. Some gifts may even have the opposite reaction of what you intended. We’ve all had that “gift” from a relative or someone that didn’t seem like a gift at all. It may feel like more like a joke, or worse, a burden that you feel you need to outwardly appreciate, but you really don’t.

 

First off, a gift is a gift. If you’re basing it on performance it’s a performance bonus. If there are no strings attached, it’s a gift. That’s not to say that all gifts must be equal, but they should come from a good place. Forget about giving out company branded SWAG, that always ranks as one of the most hated gifts.

 

What do most employees want? Ask them and they’ll tell you they want cash. They may appreciate the gesture of fruit, gift cards, or motivational books. When it comes down to it when you ask if they would have rather had cash the answer is usually, yes. The great thing about cash is it’s easy. The problem with cash is it’s impersonal. It’s not always fun to give and sometimes easy to forget when it’s from your employer.

 

Education Loan Finance for Business can help out here in a unique way because you can give them something that has the power of cash, with added sentiment and thoughtfulness. You can help pay some of their student loans for the month. By providing a yearly contribution to student loan debt it is the same as giving cash, but it tells employees you understand. It shows that you understand the financial obligations they have and you want them to be in a more financially secure place. They can use the extra money they don’t have to pay loans with, on their holiday gifts, or they can pay down their loans even faster. It’s a win-win.

 

Not every employee will have student loans obviously, but it’s a great option for those that do. For the rest? What employees seem to love most is a choice. That may seem a little impersonal, but really it’s not. Say you offer, cash, a gift card to a nice restaurant or an extra day off next year. Employees who get to choose what they want will be happy because they were involved in the process. Happy employees mean fewer complaints and that can help make the holidays a little happier.

 

Educational Lunch

Around the holidays many people become stressed about finances due to gift-giving and popular shopping days. Something you can do as an employer to ease stress for your employees is to set up a financial education lunch. This type of lunch would be great before the holidays to share some budgeting tips and ideas. Have a local banker, partner, or client come in and share their top tips for the holidays. Cater the lunch and allow employees to ask as many questions as they’d like during the sessions. If you want to make it fun try giving away some surprise gifts for those who attend.

 

Remote Working Days

As the holidays draw near, the workload of employees will continue to get bigger. Consider offering your employees some remote days around the holidays. This will allow employees to work from home saving time on commuting and they can get more of their own personal chores done too. If you cannot permit employees to work from home try offering flexible working hours. Any additional flexibility that can be offered during the holidays will have a large impact on employees.

 

Let your employees share in the giving or not.

 

Whether it’s a secret Santa, white elephant, or a grab-bag, most offices have some sort of gift exchange. This can be an easy way to have fun that doesn’t take a lot of time. Put a strict limit on cost, usually $20 or less and let it be known that you don’t have to participate. No one likes to be forced into a secret Santa or some sort of gift giving organized by their employer.

 

Share the company’s edible gifts and let employees share their treats.        

 

Sometimes vendors, clients, or partners will send gifts to management, often in the form of edible treats. Why not open it up to everyone to share in the goodies? It doesn’t cost anything. Additionally, invite employees to share their holiday treats if they want. You’ll find that a lot of people enjoy sharing their favorite things about the holidays as much as they do getting gifts. You could even host a holiday lunch where employees are invited to bring in their favorite treats.

 

Regardless of how your company chooses to proceed through the holidays, it’s important to keep in mind your employees. It’s best to facilitate an environment where workers like to come to work. Though it may seem counter-intuitive to spend money on educational lunches or remote working days, these can help to ease employee stress. Employees who are stressed less will do better work and be more willing to stay to get work done.

 

Five Things Millennial Employees Look For

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Employer Student Loan Assistance Programs
2020-04-17
Important Details on Employer Student Loan Assistance Programs

For student loan borrowers whose incomes have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the new CARES Act promises some much-needed relief. But beyond benefits like payment suspensions and interest waivers, the CARES Act delivers additional help in the form of employer-offered student loan benefits.

  By Kat Tretina Kat Tretina is a writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been featured in publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and more. She is focused on helping people pay down their debt and boost their income.  

For companies looking to attract top talent, it makes sense to pay attention to issues that affect employees’ lives. For young workers, one of the most significant problems is student loans. According to the Brookings Institute, over 42 million Americans have student debt.

 

To stand out from other employers, offering student loan repayment assistance is a desirable benefit. In fact, one survey found that 60% of adults with student loans said they would think about switching to an employer that offers student loan repayment aid. Now, thanks to the CARES Act, employers can take advantage of tax breaks to help their employees deal with their debt during this difficult time.

 

Challenges in Hiring

In the Society for Human Resources Management’s 2019 State of the Workplace report, the organization found that companies struggled to find workers to fill high-skilled positions. Employers in different sectors are experiencing a talent shortage, unable to find workers with specialized education and experience.

 

The industries hardest hit by this phenomenon are healthcare and technology, particularly in data analysis, science, and engineering.

 

The biggest reason companies said they struggled to hire suitable candidates? Competition from other employers. With a limited pool of skilled workers, companies have to work hard to stand out from other employers to get the best employees.

 

For skilled workers with student loan debt, one way employers can improve their compensation package is by offering student loan repayment assistance. And thanks to the CARES Act, that’s easier than ever for employers.

 

What is the CARES Act?

The COVID-19 virus pandemic devastated the United States’ economy, causing millions of people to lose their jobs or to experience reductions in income. With so many people struggling to make ends meet, the government created the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide economic assistance.

 

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the CARES Act into law. As part of the CARES Act, the following changes were made:

    • Stimulus checks up to $1,200: Individuals will receive up to $1,200 based on their 2019 tax returns, if they have already filed their returns. If not, the amount of the check will be based on their 2018 tax returns.
    • Extended unemployment protection: Eligible workers who are now unemployed can receive an additional $600 per week for up to four months.
    • Waivers of penalties for early withdrawals from retirement accounts: If people tap into their retirement accounts to make ends meet, the 10% early withdrawal penalty is waived. 
    • Federal student loan payments suspended until September 30, 2020: Federal student loan payments on Direct loans and federally-held FFEL loans and Perkins Loans are suspended for six months. During that time, no interest will accrue on the loan, and borrowers will still get payment credits toward loan forgiveness and loan rehabilitation programs.
 

How Does the CARES Act Affect Employer Student Debt Programs?

However, another benefit that is commonly overlooked is the expansion of employer student loan repayment assistance programs. 

 

Under the CARES Act, employers can contribute up to $5,250 toward an employee’s student loans from March 27 until December 31, 2020, and the payment is excluded from the employee’s income. It is also tax-free for the employer, since it’s not subject to payroll taxes up to the contribution threshold.

 

The CARES Act amended the tax code to incorporate provisions of yet-to-be-passed Employer Participation in Repayment Act, allowing employers to pay off up to $5,250 of an employee’s debt tax-free.

 

Currently, approximately eight percent of employers offer student loan repayment assistance and can take advantage of this benefit. However, it’s available to more companies if they wish to use it.

 

Previously, the tax treatment of employer student loan repayment assistance programs created a burden on both employees and companies, so this is a substantial benefit that may encourage more employers to offer this perk to their workers.

 

ELFI for Business

If you are a business owner or a human resources manager looking to improve your recruitment and retention efforts, offering student loan repayment benefits can be a powerful tool. If the idea of building your own program seems overwhelming, consider taking advantage of the ELFI for Business program.

 

The ELFI for Business program is designed to help employers recruit and retain top talent. In one survey, 86% of workers reported that they would commit to an employer for five years if they received help with their student loan payments. And, three in five survey respondents said paying off student loans is a priority over saving for retirement.

 

Employer contributions can make a dramatic difference on your employees’ debt. For example, let’s say your employee had $30,000 in student loans at 6% interest and a 10-year repayment term. If you contributed $100 per month toward the loan’s repayment, the repayment term would be reduced by three years. And, the employee would save $11,363.

 

ELFI for Business also gives your employees other tools to manage their debt, including:

  • Newsletters
  • New hire onboarding booklets
  • Webinars
  • Onsite consultations
 

Customized Student Loan Refinancing Advice

Employers that participate in the ELFI for Business program will also have access to loan advisors to help employees considering student loan refinancing.*

 

If your employees have student loans with high interest rates, refinancing can help them reduce their rate and save money over the length of their loan. And, by lowering their interest rate, more of their payment will go toward their principal instead of interest charges, so they can get out of debt faster.

 

ELFI customers have reported that they are saving an average of $272 every month and should see an average of $13,940 in total savings after refinancing their student loans1. When combined with employer contributions, refinancing can be an effective tool to pay off student loan debt.

 

Helping Employees During COVID-19

During these difficult times when so many are reeling from the coronavirus outbreak, offering benefits like student loan repayment assistance can make a major impact on your employees’ lives. Not only can it help recruit and retain good employees, but it can also build your company’s reputation and brand.

 

If you’re interested in introducing student loan repayment benefits in your workplace, contact ELFI for Business.

 
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   1Average savings calculations are based on information provided by SouthEast Bank/ Education Loan Finance customers who refinanced their student loans between 2/7/2020 and 2/21/2020. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon a number of factors.   Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.  
middle aged professionals starting internships
2020-01-20
Minternship: A New Trend for Middle-Aged Adults

By Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been featured in publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and more. She is focused on helping people pay down their debt and boost their income.

  In decades past, you would enter an industry and then spend your entire working career in the same field, often with the same employer. However, today’s economy is quite different. According to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, people have 12 different jobs over the length of their careers, on average. Not only that, but they also may switch fields during the course of their lives.    In a 2019 Indeed survey, 49 percent of U.S. workers reported a dramatic career change. For example, they may have switched from marketing to engineering, or from teaching to finance.    If you’re feeling burned out in your current field, switching to a new career can help reenergize you. And while switching careers can be challenging, completing a “minternship” — an internship you complete after already starting your career — can help bridge the gap.   

What is a Minternship?

In August of 2019, BBC reported on the growing trend of minternships. Many millennial workers, frustrated in their current jobs, are using internships to relaunch their careers or completely switch their professional plans.    You can complete a minternship when you’re already advanced in your career, often when you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s. At this age, an internship can help you gain experience and test out a new field. And, it can provide essential networking opportunities so you can land a full-time job once you’re done.    During a minternship, you get hands-on experience in your selected field. You’ll work alongside professionals and learn the ins and outs of the business, completing projects and building your portfolio. Depending on the opportunity, minternships can be part-time or full-time commitments.   

Where to Find a Minternship

If a minternship is appealing to you, there are several different ways to find an internship that matches your interests:   
  1. Consider returning to school: In some fields, you may need to return to school to complete a certificate program, get an MBA degree, or earn a master’s degree to get a job. Many schools require students to complete internships, and will even help connect you with companies that are hiring. 
  2. Search job boards: Some companies post their internships on job boards like Indeed, Monster, and Internships.com. You can search by location, company, or field to find an opportunity that suits your needs. 
  3. Connect with your network: If you’re switching careers, consider reaching out to your network on LinkedIn or via email to share your goals and ask for help. 
  4. Ask your employer: Some companies — especially large ones — will help facilitate employees’ transitions to a new department. They may provide student loan repayment assistance for employees who go back to school, or they may offer on-the-job training programs. Talk to your human resources department to discuss your options. 
 

How to Prepare for a Minternship

While a minternship can be a great way to gain necessary experience, it may require you to make some lifestyle changes. To take on a minternship and leave your full-time job, you will likely need to adjust to a pay cut. To prepare for that and minimize its impact, follow these steps: 
  1. Explore financial aid: If you’re returning to school and completing a minternship, make sure you apply for financial aid, including grants, scholarships, federal student loans, and private student loans*. You may qualify for aid and loans to cover your living expenses so you can focus on your education and budding career. 
  2. Create a budget: Make a budget detailing how much money you’ll have coming in while you’re interning and how much you’ll spend each month. Account for regular expenses like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, and transportation. 
  3. Cut expenses: Once your budget is complete, look for areas where you can cut back. Perhaps you can add a roommate while you’re an intern, or you can use public transportation. 
  4. Find additional income sources: As an intern, you may need to be creative about how you earn money. While paid internships are possible, unpaid internships are common in certain fields. If that’s the case, consider launching a side hustle or freelancing or consulting in your old field to earn income. Or, you can take on a part-time job. 
  5. Refinance student loans: To reduce your student loan payments while you’re interning, you can refinance your student loans*. If you extend your repayment term, you could dramatically lower your monthly payments. You may pay more over time in interest thanks to the longer loan term, but it can be worth it to free up more money in your budget each month. 
 

Changing Careers

If your current job no longer excites or challenges you, it may be time for a change. Completing a minternship gives you an opportunity to learn new skills so you can successfully switch fields. While it will take some sacrifices and time to do, finishing a minternship can prepare you for a successful career change.    Do you need to borrow money to pay for school, or do you want to refinance your existing debt to lower your payments?    ELFI offers private student loans and student loan refinancing loans with competitive interest rates. There are no application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties. And, it offers a variety of repayment options and loan terms to suit your needs. You can use ELFI’s Student Loan Refinancing Calculator* to get a rate quote without affecting your credit score.  
 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

2019-09-28
Down to Business: 5 Perks That Today’s Employees Demand

Perks have generally been regarded as nice-to-have additions to an employee’s basic salary and benefits package. Offerings such as flexible schedules, tuition reimbursements, employee discounts, and gym memberships have been seen as the icing on the cake that may sway a prospective hire to choose one employer over another. However, younger employees are regarding some desirable offerings by employers not as perks, but rather as essentials. Here are five perks that fall into this category.

1. Flex Time

Today’s employees don’t see the world in black or white or nine to five. Studies show the following:
One way to make the workplace more appealing to today’s workers is to do away with the rigid procedure of tracking work hours and vacation days. The only metrics that should matter are the productivity of staff members, how well they accomplish tasks, and team member morale. As long as employees do their work, a company shouldn’t care when or for how long they’re in the office.
  • Flex Time for Family - Employees should be encouraged to take time off when necessary. This includes providing the opportunity for new parents to stay out of the office for four to eight months following the birth or adoption of a baby, or to care for a close family member with a serious health condition. Another good idea is to offer reimbursement of expenses related to adoption or surrogacy.

2. Telecommuting

Today’s employees are rebelling over being forced to make a long commute every day, pay tolls, or cope with overcrowded and inefficient public transportation. One survey on telecommuting preferences found that nearly 90 percent of the US workforce would like to “telework.” Telecommuting two to three days a week was regarded as the sweet spot for a balance of working alone at home and collaborative work in the office.

3. Help with Student Loan Payments

Most young people starting out on their career paths are burdened with student loan payments. With that in mind, one perk that should not be overlooked is the potential to help your employees pay down their student loans. Student loan payments can eat into a worker’s paycheck for years and years, and worrying about them may affect their job performance. However, ELFI for Business can introduce you to several ways your company can help your employees pay off their student loan debt. Call us at 1.844.601.ELFI for more information on this innovative new program.

4. More Autonomy

Today’s workers don’t want to be micromanaged. Companies should recognize that autonomy is a basic psychological need, and the more autonomous their employees feel, the more likely they are to be engaged. Many studies show that more job independence leads to a workforce that is more content, healthier, and more productive.

5. More Time Off

The notion that you have to work at a company for five years in order to earn an extra week’s vacation time is regarded as outdated by today’s workforce. Millennials care more about having some adventure in their lives and less about money. Companies should consider offering non-monetary lifestyle bonuses such as:
  • Three weeks of vacation time from day one.
  • A day off on an employee’s birthday.
  • An earned bonus vacation week around an appropriate holiday.
  • A fourth week of vacation after someone has been there for three years.
  • After five years, eligibility for Summer Fridays off.

The Perks to Companies

There are very tangible benefits to companies that offer their employees flexible work options, telecommuting, assistance with student loan debt, more time off, and greater autonomy. These include the following:
  • Longevity – A study found that 86% of workers would commit to a company for five years if that company helped pay off their student loans. Moreover, millennials are likely to stay in a job for more than five years if their employers provide some flexibility about when and where they work.
  • Job satisfaction – One survey revealed that 90 percent of participants felt that more flexible work arrangements would boost their morale and increase their job satisfaction.
  • More productivity - It’s a simple equation: Happier employees leads to more engaged and productive employees.
  • Recruit more easily and quickly - A flexible work policy will improve a company’s recruitment metrics. One survey discovered that 77 percent of job seekers put flexible work schedules at the very top of their list of perks when evaluating job opportunities.

Join the Workplace of the Future

Job satisfaction is essential to a company’s overall success, which is why it’s crucial to offer perks that top talent are looking for. To learn more about how to make your workplace attractive to today’s employees, read The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, by Ron Friedman, an award-winning social psychologist and author. Then, contact ELFI to see how ELFI for Business can help your team attract and retain top talent!
NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.