Benefit Trends: What is Ahead for 2018

SUBJECT MATTER | Dec 15, 2017

It’s almost the start of a new year. Does that mean out with the old benefits and in with the new? Sort of!

Employers are increasingly aware of the opinions of their employees, and recognize the effect that happy, healthy employees have on the bottom line. The benefits offered by a company continue to play a large role in employee satisfaction. But, more than ever, the meaning of “health” will focus on the whole person.

Employee health includes the more obvious dimensions like physical and emotional well-being — but also includes social, financial and environmental dimensions.

So, what benefits will be trending in 2018? Expect employers to meet the demand and provide the resources and solutions necessary to balance every dimension of employee health.

Expanding financial wellness
Sure, employers have been invested in financial wellness for a while. It’s no secret that there’s a link between financial and physical health. There’s also a clear return on investment when employers invest in the financial wellness of their employees.

The leading cause of stress in the United States? Personal finances. Productivity also comes into play. Some surveys show that employees can spend an average of 45 minutes per day dealing with personal finances. That’s more than three hours a week!

This year, employers will continue communicating the link between financial and physical health. On-site, company-wide courses are a cost-effective way to help employees. Offering information on budgeting, health care spending habits, home and other large purchases, and debt reduction helps keep employees accountable for their own financial goals.

However, in the next year, we’ll see the category of financial wellness programs and incentives broaden to include more student loan assistance among companies.

In the U.S., the student loan debt is at an astounding $1.3 trillion. What’s even more astounding? Almost 70 percent of the borrowers are under the age of 39.

Student loan repayment assistance is rare, but growing in popularity due to the growing amount of debt young professionals have when entering the work force. The average student in the class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt. Some employers are offering to make additional payments to existing student loans. This evolving benefit provides a number of perks, for both the employee and company.

  • It’s rare. Employers can portray themselves as cutting-edge and competitive by offering this benefit.
  • It’s helpful. Even a small bump in the amount someone is paying toward their loans can help shred years and thousands of dollars’ worth of interest off a loan.
  • It’s tax-free. (Well, not yet.) But if the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act is enacted employers could offer this benefit tax-free as soon as 2018.

Expect to hear more about financial wellness, including student loan debt and repayment, in the next year.

Pet insurance
You may have heard about this new generation, the millennials? Companies will continue to adjust business practices to meet the demands of this generation — the largest generation in the U.S. work force. And according to research gathered by the pet food industry, 35 percent of millennials own pets making them the largest U.S. pet-owning population. Pet insurance is another perk offered by a growing number of employers that can help attract, and retain employees.

Other trends to watch for 2018
A few other trends to watch for in 2018 include the continued focus on employee wellness programs, but with a twist. Companies are offering wellness programs featuring high-tech wellness. Creating wellness programs that offer the convenience of syncing fitness trackers, like Fitbits, increases employee participation. Some companies even supply the trackers!

Continued education benefits both the employee and employer. More and more companies are offering online options to support their continued education benefits — expanding the benefit to create greater opportunity to even more employees.

Communicating benefits in 2018
Just as benefits are always evolving, a company’s methods for communicating benefits should be evaluated and adjusted year-round, as well. In the next year, the emphasis on do-it-yourself, streamlined benefit platforms will increase even more. We’re already noticing a decrease in group meetings, paper forms, etc. and an increase in technology that is fueled by the way millennials like to work and communicate.

Communicate benefits via mobile, video, social media, benefit portals and interactive tools to provide valuable, real-time benefits information to the employee population. These channels
allow employees to digest the information at their own pace and revisit as much as needed. They provide an opportunity for more customization, and allow the employer to control the process with even more efficiency.

Let’s Be Partners

If you’re ready to change how your people use their benefits, experience company culture, and take actions that drive success at work and in life, we’re ready to help. Together, we can raise the bar on your employee communication and produce measurable results so that you can grow and thrive.

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