WM Holding Company, a technology and software platform serving the cannabis industry, has partnered with student loan provider Goodly to provide its 400 employees with college debt repayment assistance.
WM operates through two main businesses: Weedmaps, an online marketplace for cannabis consumers, and WM Business, a software subscription service for cannabis retailers and brands.
“Alleviating some of the burden associated with paying off student loans is a tangible and very attractive benefit that we are able to offer to current and potential employees,” said Steven Jung, COO at Weedmaps. “As our organization grows and we seek to recruit a highly skilled and diverse workforce, there is a need for our benefit offerings to be competitive. “
WM will pay $ 1,000 per employee per year towards a student loan or 529 savings plan, which will be paid in monthly installments of $ 83.33 per employee per month.
The first employer contribution was paid in January, according to Goodly CEO Greg Poulin. Sixty employees have already registered, with more integration.
“Employer contributions allow the average employee to get off debt 20% to 25% faster than they would on their own, demonstrating the huge impact of repaying sponsored student loans by the employer, ”Poulin said.
Student loan debt in the United States reached $ 1.56 trillion in 2020, according to the Federal Reserve, with 45 million borrowers grieving the burden. Despite the impact, employers have been slow to offer benefits that help employees achieve financial freedom: only 8% of employers offer student debt relief, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
However, student loan benefits can play a huge role in employee satisfaction and performance. Providing a student debt repayment benefit can reduce stress and employee turnover, says Employee Benefits News donor Sharla Sainte Rose. Student debt can have a significant impact on an employee’s mental health: 53% of heavily indebted student loan borrowers have suffered depression because of their debt, according to Student Loan Planner, a financial counseling resource provider.
Weedmaps didn’t wait to hear employees say they were struggling with student debt. Instead, the employer proactively sought the benefit in order to provide support to staff before they escalated into crisis.
“We have put in place not only a student loan, but also an option for an education savings of 529, which an employee wants to save for further education or to start saving money for their children’s future education.” , explains Jung.