With changes in the economy and general employment environment, many employers are facing the important question of whether their traditional approach to employee benefits is still sufficient. From rising premium costs to changing needs based on new worker demographics, a host of factors is driving change in the benefits world. Companies are being forced to rethink how they structure their plans, which benefits they prioritize, and how communications with employees are handled. Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest forces currently in play around this important issue and how businesses can plan a proactive strategy that meets their needs.
Balancing Benefit Costs with Value
Benefit costs are continuously on the rise, which impacts both employers and employee contributions. With an aging baby boomer population, increasing demands on the healthcare system will place more pressure on benefit carrier costs. As the cost of benefits such as health care, dental insurance, and disability programs rise, companies will be forced to make critical decisions. For example, what is the right balance of comprehensive coverage versus policy costs? Do different populations have unique needs based on their rates of utilization, leading to different programs being available to employees with young families versus individuals on the brink of retirement? How much of the cost for benefits will employers cover and how much will shift to the subscriber? Determining these questions with the company’s financial position and employee satisfaction level in mind is important.
Changing Expectations of Benefit Offerings
Many companies are realigning their benefit offerings to provide more value by broadening the array of value-add services to accommodate the changing needs of workers with non-traditional family structures and lifestyles. For example, flexible schedules, the option to work from home, pregnancy parking, and onsite day care services are all benefits that are all becoming more prevalent. The key is understanding which benefits will help maximize employee productivity, minimize attrition for valued staff, and help attract the most qualified candidates for specific jobs. While some companies make headlines with revolutionary policies such as unlimited paid time off, many companies are facing a more moderate question. As the needs and expectations of the workforce change, how can the array of benefit offerings provided to employees evolve to enhance satisfaction while also staying true to the company’s core values and underlying profit objectives?
Evolving Communications and Enrollment Periods
Employers are tailoring their benefits-related communications to employees, rather than recycling static provider program details. Many target internal and job applicant communications regarding benefits toward parsed employee populations. The goal of improved communications is to raise awareness of available employee benefits and increase utilization among the employees most likely to be interested in those services. In addition, companies are delivering these communications to internal employees with greater frequency, rather than the traditional once per year, one-size-fits-all open enrollment period. More frequent and more relevant communications around benefits not only raises awareness, but enhances perception of value. Higher levels of approval around benefits can help companies meet employee retention, employee satisfaction, and candidate recruitment goals.
Employee benefits comprise an important part of compensation packages. Today’s employers are being faced with important questions about how their approach to benefits can evolve to meet rapidly evolving needs. Revisiting benefits offerings, considering costs, and improving communication can all play a helpful role in maximizing the impact of your company’s benefit offerings.