The Future of Employee Benefits4 min read • September 11, 2019
The nature of work is changing. As each new generation enters the workforce, they demand more flexibility, creativity and joy from their work than the generation before. It’s now common for people to seek out jobs that fit into their overall lifestyle instead of fitting their lifestyle to their job, and they often cite a company’s benefits as one of the most important pieces of the job offer. Employees now want everything, including their health benefits, personalized to their needs, so that they can gain the most value out of their employee benefits. With healthcare cited as the most important benefit when considering a position, it may be valuable to pick a high-value health plan for employees.
Employers, on the other hand, want to contain costs while still attracting top talent. This can be challenging because candidates can come from varying generations with different wants and needs, in terms of benefits.
It might seem like these two objectives are at odds, but thanks to the increased availability of health insurance accounts, technology and the changing nature of family leave, the future of benefits could very well turn into something that makes everyone happy.
Here’s how it’ll happen.
Account-Based Health Plans Will Become the Norm
There’s no better way to personalize your healthcare than to choose where to spend your money. All of the account-based health plans function a little differently but the general idea is the same: empower employees to make the best financial decision for themselves when it comes to their healthcare.
Employees can use their money incrementally for copays or prescriptions, for example, or they can save it up for a major procedure. Some accounts even enable employees to save for retirement. Since employees have more control over the medical care for which they pay, they’re more likely to get the amount of coverage they need instead of being over or under-covered under a traditional group plan.
Account-based plans are also great for employers. Since the workplace is a multi-generational and cultural place, employers who offer group plans often need to choose expensive, all-encompassing coverage in an attempt to meet everyone’s needs. The problem with this is that some employees end up over-covered while others are under-covered for the care they need.
Account-based plans solve the coverage problem and since they tend to be cheaper than traditional group plans, they help employers reduce costs as well.
Greater Utilization of Technology
One of tech’s big promises is its potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry. Benefits managers are already seeing this promise realized in the areas of enrollment, telehealth and employee education.
By using an online benefits platform, HR departments can provide a diverse employee population with resources that not only explain and compare available plans, HR departments can actually help employees make the right decisions for themselves throughout the year. Online platforms also save HR departments an average of 14 hours per week, which can translate into significant savings to the company.
While technology is revolutionizing the way people choose and use health insurance, telehealth, is revolutionizing the way people see their doctor. With mental health professionals, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals utilizing technology to see patients virtually, patients are seen quicker and no longer need to trek across town to get to the doctor’s office. That means they get healthier faster, and this benefits both employee and employer.
Family Benefits Will Become a Right – not a Privilege
The culture around family and who cares for that family has started shifting in the U.S. Women want to be able to go back to work while still meeting their responsibilities at home and men want paid leave to bond with their child and help with the caretaking responsibilities. Some state and local laws already mandate maternity and paternity leave as well as paid family leave, but as new generations of workers enter the workforce, companies—whether or not they’re required—will have to offer some kind of paid leave if they want to be competitive and attract top talent.
In addition to paid maternity, paternity and family leave, some companies have started offering fertility and elective egg-freezing benefits. As younger generations wait longer and longer to have kids, often putting career and personal development first (which benefits their employer), egg freezing and fertility treatments can be necessary if these same people want to have a family. By offering egg freezing and fertility benefits, companies can enable their employees to pursue their career goals without feeling like they have to choose between succeeding professionally or having a family. This is clearly a win for the employee, but it also benefits the company as they are more likely to keep and nurture a diverse talent pool.
The nature of benefits is changing for the better. As these three trends spread across companies and industries, more employees will have the support and coverage they need to live the lives they want, and employers will be able to attract the talent they want while maintaining a healthy, happy workforce and containing costs. It’s not utopia, but it’s close.