Starting with the introduction of workplace healthcare coverage in the 1940’s, medical benefits have been a significant element in U.S. employee compensation packages. Since then, the types of benefits offered and the role they play has expanded dramatically.
Today, the U.S. economy is experiencing its lowest unemployment rates in decades, hovering around 3.5%. To stay competitive, employers are turning to their benefits administration professionals to construct offerings more likely to attract top talent in a tough market.
Even as low unemployment drives change, generational differences are giving pause to many employers still offering only traditional benefits packages. A new generation of workers is entering the job market pushing for a different benefit experience, and employers can’t afford to be slow to react.
Here are some trends that every Benefit Administration Professional needs to put on their radar.
Perks at Work
Traditional benefits are still considered the cornerstone of a solid benefits package, but employees have begun looking for perks in addition to health, vision, and dental.
Benefits that augment or improve quality of life, known as lifestyle benefits, hold greater and greater importance to younger employees. They want their jobs to provide types of insurance and perks previously considered to be private purchases, like renter’s insurance and identity theft protection.
Likewise, they want their benefits options to be personalized. Companies would be wise to use analytics to determine which offerings are being used by employees, and which aren’t, to ensure benefit options reflect who their employees are and what they are interested in. Not only does this mean greater utilization, but it is another avenue to connect with your workforce.
Historically, the U.S. has taken a different, arguably less family friendly approach to benefits. Americans work longer hours, employers offer less paid maternity leave (not to mention paternity leave), and allowances for needs related to elder care are limited.
While national policy has not evolved to match that of other nations, employee demands can’t be ignored. Private business has begun to make its own path towards providing more family friendly benefits.
A few examples to consider are breast milk shipping services, a benefit becoming standard for executive-level mothers, and caregiving services for children or aging family members. CorporateCare Solutions is a service which partners with employers to allow employees flexibility in caring for their loved ones, resulting in fewer missed days and greater employee satisfaction and retention.
Pets are increasingly seen as members of the family as well. The pet medicine industry has exploded in recent years and demand for pet insurance has followed in kind. Increasingly, employees are seeing pet insurance as both a necessity and as a benefit their employers should be offering.
A key trend to take note of is the concept of wellness. This term is usually associated with health, however, financial wellness is a notion that is overtaking the ways that employers and employees have previously thought about personal finances.
Financial wellness stretches beyond traditional notions of good pay and job security. Student loan debt, credit card debt, changes in home buying, car buying, and increasing complexity in personal finance have shaped current employee demands.
Debt prevention and financial repair inform current personal finance trends; employees are seeking guidance in avoiding or eliminating credit card debt, assistance in repaying student loan debt, and direction towards budgeting and smart financial management.
Companies providing these services have exploded in recent years, with particular attention paid to student loan debt, and more employers are adding them to their benefits offerings.
Some of these benefits are already becoming standard. Being on the cutting edge of financial wellness benefits is a smart move towards the future.
Emotional Wellness & Medical Alternatives
Similarly, the incoming workforce generation places an increased emphasis on mental and emotional wellness. Stigmas surrounding mental health care have broken down especially among younger employees. Mental health is now seen to be as equally important as physical health.
This trend goes hand in hand with another growing trend: telemedicine. Telemedicine allows patients to have routine health concerns treated over the phone, video chat, or text message. This cuts down time missed from work, travel time, significant expense, and can alleviate concern by providing an answer much more quickly than in-person visits.
Many services, like MeMD and MDLive, offer behavioral health treatment which can also replace in-person psychiatry and therapy appointments.
Creating an atmosphere that promotes emotional wellness and resiliency is critical in a modern workplace. Part of that is offering benefits which address these needs formally and telemedicine can be an excellent avenue to achieve that goal.
Simplicity & Transparency
The trend that encompasses and permeates all of the other trends identified in this blog is ease of enrollment and transparency of benefit offerings and corporate perks. Insurance has trailed behind most other services in user experience and ease of access. Often, this has bled into the way that benefits are administered at the user level.
This is a driving force behind the advancements that Genius Avenue has made in the benefit sphere, and just one way we are able to help companies retain their employees. Better technology is key in making employees happier and professional benefit administrators more effective.
Exciting changes are happening in benefits administration as the job market gets more competitive and employee demands evolve. Genius Avenue knows these changes intimately and is here to help benefit administration professionals keep up.