Making the Case for Student Loan Repayment for Mental Health Employers

Posted on: April 11, 2024

Recruiting and retaining educated health care workers is a challenge for today’s employers. Those challenges apply as much to mental health workers and clinicians as they do to hospital and clinical nurses, techs, and assistants.

Thriveworks is a clinician-founded and –led organization and leading mental health provider of therapy and psychiatry offering in-person and online therapy in 49 states and the District of Columbia. The organization has over 380 offices and 2,000 clinicians nationwide.

Thriveworks had a high percentage of clinicians who chose to stay working on a part-time basis despite the organization’s efforts to promote full-time work. In the past, the organization had offered health benefits and assistance with professional development to incentivize clinicians to increase their hours to full-time—with limited success.

Offering unique benefits not offered by competitors—and only making them available to employees working full-time hours—is also an effective way to incentivize current clinicians to work more hours. Thriveworks took this approach as part of a benefits overhaul in December 2022 and a larger strategy to engage more full-time mental health clinicians and reduce the number of clinicians opting to work on a part-time basis.

Jane Dale has managed compensation and benefits in her role as Head of Total Rewards at Thriveworks for the past two years. She worked with BenefitEd Sales Manager Tahner Pinkman to implement Employer-Assisted Student Loan Repayment in December 2022.

As Dale stated, “A majority of our employees do have student loans and so this was a huge help for them as a perk to ramp up their hours from part-time, make some extra cash, and be benefits-eligible.”

Dale said Pinkman mentioned that the average participation rate in student loan repayment for BenefitEd clients is about 12%, with a high participation rate being around 20% or more. After speaking with Dale, Pinkman hinted that their participation rate might approach 30% or more.

Thriveworks set up Student Loan Repayment in a four-tier program. “The amount the company pays toward a clinician’s student loans is $100/month for full-time employees in their first year with the organization, and then for every year they stay, it goes up another $100, maxing out at the fourth year,” said Dale.

As Dale pointed out, “Thriveworks bypassed the average participation rates for the program very quickly. Probably within six months, we were lingering around 35% or 40% clinician participation, and it continued to rise from there.”

In addition to helping to boost the number of full-time clinicians, student loan repayment has positively impacted retention. Turnover among clinicians using the BenefitEd student loan repayment program has been considerably lower than among non-participants, too.

Nearly 70%*
of clinician turnover comes from BenefitEd program nonparticipants

*Dec. 2022–Dec. 2023 Thriveworks statistics

To learn more about how Thriveworks implemented the program, how much they paid in benefits in the first year, how it compares with what they expected, what employees have to say, and what the experience has been for Dale, read the complete Thriveworks case study.

Partner With BenefitEd

Discover how Employer-Assisted Student Loan Repayment works—or explore our other education benefits to address your workplace challenges. BenefitEd also works with you to implement various employer match provisions of SECURE Act 2.0. No matter the size of your organization or your industry, we can help you solve your recruitment and retention issues. Contact our team today.