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The 5 Best Benefits to Offer College Student Employees

By collegemktgrp | September 7, 2022 | Student Employers

As an employer, you don’t need to worry about convincing college students to seek out a job — nearly 40% of undergrads and 76% of grad students work at least 30 hours a week. But how you establish yourself as a desirable employer who can retain college student employees is a different challenge. 

Just like the college experience has shifted over the last few decades, so has the workforce. School is more expensive, workloads have increased, and stress levels are reportedly higher with college students than ever before.

College students are looking for employer benefits that help them navigate increased workloads and higher tuition rates. Flexible work schedules, paid time off, and the opportunity for career development are a few of the primary benefits students are looking for in their employers. 

Remembering that college students have hectic lives outside of your business is key. Pushing student employees too hard without being attentive to their needs can lead to fatigue, which can lead to turnover. And considering the average cost of a new hire is over $4,000 — and it takes around 12 weeks for a new employee to become fully productive at work — the savings on time and money can’t be overstated.

Read on to discover why employer benefits like flexibility, paid time off, and career development can help increase retention rates with college student employees.

1. Offer Flexible Hours that Work with Their Class Schedule

Nearly 70% of all college students work part- or full-time while in school. That means a significant amount of the college student workforce requires some flexibility in their work life to prioritize their studies.

If you allow your college student employees to have flexible schedules, you’re likely to experience lower turnover rates, better talent acquisition, and higher productivity. 

Flexible schedules come in many shapes and sizes. Here are some of the most common approaches to finding the right fit for your college student employees:

  • Flextime: Employees will work an agreed number of hours and achieve a clearly defined set of objectives. Typically, the employee has the autonomy to determine when (and sometimes where) they’ll clock those hours.
  • Compressed Workweek: Employees complete longer shifts in exchange for extra days off. A typical schedule may look like working eight hours Monday through Thursday with Fridays off.
  • Part-Time Work: Depending on the nature of an employee’s position, it could make sense for them to work less than 40 hours a week. This set-up typically comes with reduced pay and fewer-to-no health benefits.
  • Shift Work: This approach is especially successful in the manufacturing industry and companies who support round-the-clock service. Employees are assigned to different shifts to accomplish continuous work throughout the day. This can mean graveyard shifts.

2. Offer Paid Time Off They Can Use at Their Own Discretion

While there are no federal laws about employees receiving paid time off (PTO), it’s something American workers increasingly expect. 

Nearly three-quarters of workers in 2021 said PTO was important to them, and more than 60% said they’d turn down a job if their prospective company didn’t offer a PTO policy. 

For college students, employee benefits that feature paid time off allows them to plan ahead and achieve balance with their work, school, and social life. If they need to go to a doctor’s appointment, take a mental health day, or head to the polls to vote, they can step away from the office without concern about their paycheck. 

A popular way to implement paid time off is with a PTO bank. Employees have a number of hours or days they can use whenever they need, for any reason. Typically, the longer someone is with your company, the more days they can accrue —  the U.S. average is 10 PTO days per year (for full-time employees).

Offering PTO as a benefit allows you to build trust with college students, reduce unauthorized absences, and save you time (no more going through time-off requests). 

3. Give Students the Opportunity to Work from Home

There’s no denying how the pandemic has shifted the way employees value remote work. Data shows that more employees want remote work post-pandemic: 58% say they would seek out a new job if their current employer didn’t offer it. 

Some of the reasons for this preference include an increase in work productivity, a strong desire to collaborate with others virtually, and the cost-effectiveness of working from home. College students — especially the 2 million who are enrolled in distance learning programs — feel similarly. 

If possible, offering remote work options to college students gives them further flexibility to balance a busy schedule. Those who are working to pay for college may experience less stress as they balance their many responsibilities. 

Remote work models can benefit your business, too! It can save your company’s overhead and expand your market range. If you feel uneasy about jumping into a fully remote set-up, test the waters with a hybrid model or mandatory in-person work days.

4. Provide Opportunities for Career Development

College students are especially interested in job opportunities that’ll give them a clear path to grow in their careers. It’s important for your business to offer learning and growth opportunities to support their career advancement.

By offering learning and growth opportunities, you can help cultivate professional skills that benefit both your company’s and students’ long-term career development. And while not every student will stay with your company for the long haul, those who decide to move on will hopefully spread the word about the positive experiences they had with your business. 

Positioning yourself as a progressive and growth-minded company will make you a desirable employer for the next batch of students. And prioritizing learning opportunities for your employees will also keep your business clued in to new industry trends and new ways to set your business apart from competitors. 

5. Inspire Them Through Your Company’s Values

Your company’s mission and values may not be a typical employer “benefit,” but these elements are important to college student employees.

College students are more loyal to businesses that have an inspiring vision and mission. Without one, you can lose their loyalty quickly. 

You can show your employees what your company is all about by:

  • Crafting brand-aligned messaging about social, economical, environmental, and political issues.
  • Engaging with charitable giving, volunteering, or partnerships with non-profit organizations. 
  • Committing to diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, community, and in the language and imagery you use.

While your vision and values are important, make sure your employees are part of the conversation, too. Get feedback from them on what they believe in most. Foster a safe and supportive discussion around what diversity, inclusion, and positive community engagement look like to them. 

If they feel heard and represented in your company, they’ll likely remain more engaged in their job and stick around longer.

Learn more tips for improving college student employee retention >

Help Your College Student Employees Avoid Burnout

As a business owner, you know that burnout is an all-too-real thing that can impact employees — especially busy college students. 

Through employee benefits, flexible schedules, and inspiring company values, you can help your student employees strike a balance between their jobs, school, and personal lives so they’ll feel inspired to stay with your company. 

Want to learn even more strategies for retaining college student employees?

How to improve your student employee retention rates and avoid burnout >

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