City of Memphis Launches Unique Tuition Program Targeting Employee Engagement

With an overarching goal of employee engagement, the City of Memphis is set to launch a new benefit to help city workers who are burdened by student loans–the Student Loan Reduction Program. Dedicated to building and retaining an engaged workforce, Memphis is the first major U.S. city to offer such a benefit.

The new program is being administered by, the leading platform for employee student loan repayment assistance, that also works companies such as Live Nation, Staples, and Fidelity. Total student debt outstanding exceeds $1.4 trillion and employers, private and now public, are looking for creative ways to help their employees while helping to recruit and retain talent.

Starting July 1, Memphis city workers will receive monthly contributions of $50. The contributions will go toward principal repayment, helping employees retire their debt faster. Memphis officials are proud to be the first municipality in the country to offer this kind of student debt assistance to their workforce and view the program as an investment in their employees.

Alexandria Smith, chief human resources officer for the City of Memphis, told Loyalty360 about the origins of the program.

“We know that professional development is important to our workforce,” she explained. “We were looking for a program to complement our tuition reimbursement program and provide additional support to our employees as they pursue advanced education. We also know that student loan debt is a concern for our workforce. In fact, student loan debt has grown by 5 percent in Memphis. We believe that this program will help lighten the financial burden on our employees; ultimately, creating a compelling and competitive benefit that will help us both attract and retain talent for the City of Memphis. Our major goals are to increase overall employee engagement, particularly on the metric of ‘I feel valued for the work that I do,’ ‘I am satisfied with my benefits package’ and intent to stay.”

Student loan debt is a widespread issue among today’s workforce. Total student debt outstanding exceeds $1.4 trillion. To qualify for the program, an employee must be an active, full-time employee for at least 12 months.
Workforce engagement is so important to many national brands.

“The City of Memphis remains committed to attracting, retaining, and developing top talent to ensure the long-term success of our great city,” Smith added. “We had a pilot program within the HR division in spring 2017. We also presented to senior leadership for support.

What are your overarching goals for the program in the long run?

“Positive feedback and participation from employees, and long-term–able to hire and retain top talent for the City of Memphis,” Smith explained. “We see this as an important benefit to help lighten the financial burden for our employees as well as being an important tool to attract new talent to the city.”

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