Benefits play a pivotal role these days, and pros know how
tough it is to keep good people, so many employers are upping their game when
it comes to offering their employees a comprehensive benefits package.
They’re being strategic about designing a robust package
tailored to their employees’ unique needs and one that can convince upper
management that this is what the company needs to retain – and attract – the
right people moving forward.
The workplace is becoming more multi-generational, as
millennials start to dominate and older workers delay retirement. More than a
third (37%) of employers say they’re making changes to their benefits package,
or plan to do so in the near future.
No longer a
There’s no such thing as a basic benefits package
(healthcare, dental, vision, pension, etc.) or a one-size-fits-all package
anymore. Companies are now asking employees what perks or benefits they want.
And employers are listening.
Most employees at small and medium-size companies (91%)
view nontraditional benefits (flexible work schedules, expanded paid time off
and working remotely) as important to job satisfaction.
Offering the right employee benefits is one of the “Top 10
HR challenges of 2019,” according to a recent report from HR compliance firm XpertHR.
To help employers effectively create a competitive package, XpertHR suggests
that benefits pros take certain steps:
benefits against competitors and assess what the marketplace is offering
benefits that have the lowest employee participation levels and redesign or
benefits according to the needs and interest of multiple generations
Now let’s take a look at three key developments shaping
the world of employee benefits – and how you can decide from a myriad of
offerings what’s right for your employees.
Trend No. 1: Millennials
are disrupting the benefits game
Now that more than a third of the workforce are
millennials and nearly half will be by 2020, have you rethought your benefits
strategy to cater more to this group?
Healthcare is the most important benefit to millennials,
according to a recent Fit Small Business survey. But, at the
same time, debt-ridden millennials are worried about the cost of going to the
doctor. That’s why many employers are taking a proactive approach to offset
The health savings account (HSA) is “the most
millennial-friendly benefit,” wrote Amino digital health company CEO David
Vivero in Forbes. “It’s an excellent way
to save money while you’re in your young, healthy years.”
“Your millennial employees will also appreciate the flexibility of an HSA,
which can be used to pay for anything from acupuncture to contact lenses to
medical supplies,” says Vivero, a millennial himself.
And employers are buying into the concept, since employee
participation in HSAs grew from 50% in 2017 to 81% in 2018, according to
a Benefitfocus report.
Best benefits strategy: Make it easier to “doctor shop” for services, get
online appointments and visit providers via telemedicine.
Student loan repayment ranks high with
millennials. Companies that offer relief in this area will have a big leg up on
the competition and likely be able to bolster dwindling retention rates.
More than a third of employees said student debt repayment
was a must-have benefit, according to Unum survey, but that percentage leaps to
55% for millennials.
A growing number of employers, including Estée Lauder,
Pure Insurance and Carhartt, have added student loan assistance to their
benefits packages in 2018.
There’s also an emerging group of third-party
administrators offering student loan programs, such as Fidelity’s Student Debt
Employer Contribution program and CommonBond, which also offer benefits for
parents to help plan for their child’s education.
Family benefits is a crucial benefit
that millennials want. “Having comprehensive family benefits – fertility,
infertility, pregnancy, maternity and parenting benefits – can make one company
stand out from the rest,” said Paris Wallace, CEO, Ovia
Health in Forbes.
Paid leave benefits are becoming a must-have for employers
that want to have any shot at attracting and retaining top-performing employees. A
SHRM study says 29% of employers offered paid paternity leave in 2018, up
from 8% in 2016.
Flexible schedules “can also be a
make-or-break benefit for young millennials,” adds Wallace. And it’s a close
second to paid family leave as the most popular benefit overall, according to a
recent benefits provider Unum survey.
Trend No. 2: Employers get
innovative to rein in high healthcare costs
Savvy benefits managers need to know what’s in the
pipeline for health care in 2020 and beyond so they can stay competitive:
Chronic-condition management should be at the
very top of employers’ healthcare strategies. Reason: Annual healthcare costs
for workers with a chronic condition (diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease,
etc.) are five times higher than for workers without such a condition.
Employers are providing disease management programs and
health screenings to combat chronic conditions and keep employees healthy. More
than half (55%) of employers have made telehealth a part of their health plan,
according to the Medical Trends and
By providing access to a healthcare provider on the phone
or online, employers are hoping employees will avoid more costly visits to the
doctor or the emergency room. For 2019, nearly all large employers said
telehealth was one of their top healthcare initiatives, according to the 2019
National Business Group on Health study.
On-site clinics: As many as 65% of
large companies are expected to offer on-site or near-site health centers to
bolster their benefits by 2020, reports the National Business Group on
many smaller companies are banding together to share the costs of healthcare
clinics. Companies have seen major ROI in reduced absenteeism when this
option’s added, according to the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser
Coalitions. Also providing a health clinic can offer same or next-day
appointments, which can help solve a concern of millennial workers, who expect
shorter wait times.
Wellness tech: With fitness-tracker
Fitbit leading the way, firms are investing in the new wave of apps and
wearable devices to help employees lose weight, quit smoking or manage
diabetes. The remote monitoring technology, where biometric data is transmitted
to a provider via scales, glucose meters and heart-rate monitors, is
used by 56% of plans.
Trend No. 3: Voluntary
benefits are driving retention
More than two-thirds (72%) of organizations increased
their benefits offerings to retain employees in the last 12 months, according SHRM’s The
Evolution of Benefits report. More and more employers are looking to
benefits to attract/retain employers in a tight job market, so there’s a host
of more trendy benefits being offered.
Employees want flexibility, choice and non-traditional
Gym class reimbursement, mental health services and
discounted entertainment are now more common than ever.
Companies are using a new breed of work perks to lure
employees, according to FitSmallBusiness.com, which explains why the
following perks are growing in popularity:
Free life coaching: Mental health and
happiness go hand in hand. That’s why companies’ offerings include counseling,
healthy living programs and work-life coaching to help employees with both
personal and professional goals.
Customization is key to the future of benefits and technology
can make the process even easier. There are a host of different types of apps
and debit cards that can help enhance the
employee benefit experience, including:
Free lunch: Ritual for Business, an order-ahead food
app, is a brand-new benefit that Chicago Trading Company, Spotify and Verizon
Media are offering to their employees.
Pick your own perk: Employers can set a
monthly allowance on a reimbursement-free Zestful Perk Card for pre-approved
health and fitness, travel, food, etc. services (Netflix, Uber, Airbnb,
Southwest Airlines, to name a few).
Mobile-friendly benefits: With the
first-of-its-kind Aon app, employees can access
benefits all in one place, using facial recognition to log on. It includes push
notifications for benefit announcements.
Celebrate your staffers: With the employee recognition Recognize app, you can create your own
employee rewards catalog of automatic gift cards (or non-monetary rewards)
employees redeem with points.
Employees’ desires for benefits tailored to their own needs
is changing the mix of offerings. And this trend will be the key to keeping top