//Top employee benefit trends to watch out for in 2018

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Top employee benefit trends to watch out for in 2018

Employee benefits are important, but they come in many different forms. Here are some trends worth trying in 2018!

It’s a new year, and just as things are going out of fashion some things are becoming all the rage. It could be just an old thing that worked very well a few years back or a new product getting introduced in the market. Either way, trends shift and change all the time. New trends come about either because new science proves that they work or they are a new solution to old problems. Creativity and innovation are important too, and sometimes we end up going back to old solutions being used for new things, which counts as something new too.

More businesses, including small ones with tighter budgets, are giving out employee benefits. Employee benefits are good for the company and also very useful. Not only does it keep employees satisfied and less likely to leave their jobs, it also ensures that employees are more efficient and productive as they are now in better shape thanks to the benefits.

Benefits like medical insurance and financial wellness plans gives them a peace of mind and will allow them to focus entirely on work with ease of mind. Other benefits such as having facilities in the office like a gym or something providing healthy snacks for free will keep your employees in good shape and physically more ready to take on the challenges the company needs them to face.

Different things work for different companies, and there is also budgeting to be done. When the ‘fun working environment’ started working very well for the Silicon Valley companies such as Google, it was still only tech companies that gave it a try. Everyone else stuck to having a proper office and office rules.

Depending on the industry and various needs of the people, different parts of trends and models that work for others can be adopted. For example, from the Silicon Valley model some companies have decided to adopt having a game or specific room for their employees to relax. The culture of the country and people where the office is based in or hires also matters, and it is important to consider the demographics of the employees as well as be sensitive to local habits. So without further ado, here are the newest trends in employee benefits.

Here’s a summary of what we would be talking about in this article:

Tailoring benefit packages to attract and retain employees

Not only can this save money for your company, it keeps your benefits packages relevant to your employees. The benefits your package offer and their usefulness to your employees determine the effectiveness of your benefits package. Not only that, it also increases sustainability as your employees will now be more agreeable to a co-payment scheme, saving you money.

More insurance companies are providing basket or market options, whereby you buy a basket of benefits from which your employees can pick and choose. This will allow them to drop the ones they don’t want or don’t need, and will allow you to cater to a wider range of employees as well.

Employees of different age groups need different kinds of benefits. Those with families may want medical benefits plans that cover both them and their children, while the younger employees may not need that much coverage simply because they are still on their own. It is basically health insurance, but with a range as to what extent one will be covered. And your employees will be able to pick and choose what they need.

Of course, tailoring benefits to suit your employees takes time and effort, even if you want to leave them with options that they can choose on their own. You could consider having focus groups sessions or surveys for every employee to state what insurance coverage do they need the most and proceed from there, seeing how they respond. This will make sure that you don’t miss out on anyone’s needs when trying to get them their options to choose from, and will better improve your benefits plan.

Financial wellness programs

In case you haven’t heard of them, financial wellness programs are basically programs where employers provide their employees with money management training and tools. Optimally, the cost of these programs are to be completely covered by the employer, and for a very good reason.

The point of the programs is to promote financial well-being, as in to educate and ensure that employees have the know-how and capability to handle their own finances. If it was co-pay, some people might opt out because they do not think that they need such information, or precisely because they are facing financial trouble and don’t wish to pay any more. However, they are the people who need such a program to help them overcome their financial problems most, and hence it would be best if the cost of such financial education be covered completely by employers.

Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon to provide financial education for their employees as they realize employees are more productive and efficient when they have healthy finances and can focus all their energy on work. This is in contrast to employees stressing out over mortgage or credit card payments, which is when they will be distracted. Or they may be more susceptible to illnesses as the stress may result in a suppressed immune system, making them miss work.

Financial wellness targeting student debt is especially important. Student debt is becoming an increasingly common problem, and it’s not a problem faced just by young employees. Hence, employers should ensure that their financial wellness programs address this problem.

Ensuring that their employees know about how it works, and how it is consolidated and repaid may possibly be an important part of benefits packages, especially for companies that are trying to recruit and retain top performers. Even if the company isn’t looking to recruit fresh grads, student loans have showed up in some surveys to be unpaid even late into a person’s career, and it will be useful for everyone if the company offers student loan debt education.

Either way, it is counter-productive to have employees that are worrying about having out-of-control finances as while the pressure can be very large, there is also usually very little one can do in such a situation. It will also allow them to invest more in their long term financial security. Financial wellness will allow employees to feel more satisfied with their jobs as well, since they will find that they are living comfortably with their job, and make them less likely to seek other options or leave.

More non-traditional voluntary benefits

More and more companies are also looking into providing lifestyle benefits, such as pet insurance or even something as simple as flexible working hours. This is because usually people in the company will have the same interests aligned with the mission of the company. People are also looking into providing platforms to make these flexible and wide-ranging employee benefits plans possible and simple for companies.

For example, people in a health organization are more or less likely to be interested in keeping fit and will tend to be more health conscious. Then tailoring a very good health insurance plan along with a comprehensive wellness program would be relevant. You could also consider having an in-house gym or giving your employees a special discount at a particular gym near the office. As a matter of fact, 70% of companies are now offering their employees general wellness programmes and a stunning 46% (nearly half) of them offer health and lifestyle coaching.

Lifestyle benefits could also be as easy as providing free food in the cafeteria. If your company is looking to be more supportive of mothers, it is as easy as allowing women (and men) to bring their work home and giving them the convenience of working away from the office. This will allow them to continue contributing to the company while remaining flexible enough that they are able to upkeep their commitment to their family and child.

And telecommuting isn’t just for those with familial commitments. The flexibility of someone being able to bring their work and continue it away from office means that the employee has better and more control of their time. The employee will be able to be more effective and efficient as he will be able to decide what to do, and when, according to their own sleep schedules whereby they may be more efficient in the day, afternoon or night, etc. More employers are already beginning to do this as the percentage of employers offering telecommuting on an ad hoc basis has increased from 45 percent in 2012 to 56 percent in 2016. More companies are also providing a stipend for phones and computers rather than just giving employees one. It is more practical, and allows employees to handle work and personal things on the same device.

allow them to continue contributing to the company while remaining flexible enough that they are able to upkeep their commitment to their family and child.

Future innovations

Businesses can also look into making use of new technology to improve the efficiency of the delivery of these employee benefits that are being provided. For example, even with the financial education courses provided, some employees may not want to attend or take away all that they can from them as they might not want to seem ignorant in front of their superiors and co-workers. Online lessons are a good alternative to this, as everyone will be granted the privacy and still have access to the financial advisors provided by the company.

Employees can also make better use of their time, if their appointments with the specialists provided as staff benefits can take place online. And it actually is possible, with things like next-generation biosensors that will allow their doctors to monitor their health from afar. 13% of the companies have already started to provide their employees with health fitness bands and tracking devices to start the ball rolling. Hence, business owners should keep their eyes and ears out for anything that could be of help and benefit the employees, as it will end up benefitting them as well.

Legal plans

Providing legal services is actually a practical and useful benefit to offer as a part of your package. Everyone will require legal services at one point in time of their life or another. Prepaid legal plans are becoming increasingly popular, and are a logical option. When employees have to deal with the stress of legal issues, employers have to deal with the stress of absenteeism, poor job performance and even higher healthcare costs.

This will ensure that when clients require legal services, the costs are not so high and that they already have a lawyer on hand. It will be easier on them going through the complicated mess of legal affairs, and they will still be able to focus on work.

Data security

You will realize that by providing employees with so many benefits, that a lot of employee information will be in the company or company related systems and servers, and it is of utmost importance to guard them well. Hacking and phishing targeting the company servers will hurt all your employees, and now it’s on a large scale since everyone’s information is consolidated in one place. And the damage that can be done is not lesser, and employees will feel it as a targeted attack.

Employers already have to set out data security measures along with the benefits providers, and the EU has data protection laws in place already. More companies are also trying to place emphasis on data security, especially since more companies are finding themselves the victims of hacking and security breaches.

According to the 2014 Information security breaches survey, published by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in July 2014, 81% of large organisations and 60% of small businesses suffered a security breach in the past year and 59% of respondents expect there to be more security incidents in the next year. Hence, companies need to be as careful with their employees’ information as they are with that of their customers as this is as, if not more, important.

David Ho
Medical Benefits Designer

2018-09-11T10:27:22+00:00