Today is National Employee Benefits Day, an annual celebration that honors the work of corporate benefits practitioners, administrators, professional advisers, and trustees that help ensure employees have various health, wellness, and financial benefits available.
Throughout the last few years, organizations have reshaped their benefit offerings to better support employees during the pandemic and shift to remote work. And that demand for benefits continues to evolve due to the Great Resignation and the need to attract and retain employees in the current labor market.
So, what are the critical trends these benefits professionals have been following? Today we look at what’s grabbing headlines and how it will impact the industry and the future of work.
Let’s dig in…
Work-Life Integration Versus Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is like a hanging scale, where your personal life balances on one side and your professional life on the other. Employees must take and give from each side to create a balanced lifestyle. The lines between work and life are clear and don’t overlap. Employees keep their professional and personal lives separate, often struggling to maintain those boundaries, manage their time, and meet demands, leading to undue frustration and mental anguish.
Today, progressive organizations focus on helping employees achieve work-life integration.
Work-life integration seeks to create synergies between work and life, by blending home and family, work and career, well-being and health, and community and connecting.
As a result, employers support flexible time, achieve higher employee engagement, and reduce absenteeism. Employees are happier, more productive, and less stressed. They no longer have the competitive mindset that demands they compartmentalize their work and home life, making life more meaningful and satisfying.
What are some examples of work-life integration?
- Find a Doctor Near You: Instead of scheduling a doctor’s appointment before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m., employees take time off during the workday for medical care, without using paid time off (PTO), or feeling pressured to return to the office. They complete their work during the times that best work for that employee.
- Get to the Gym: Making time to exercise on a busy schedule isn’t easy. With work-life integration, you hit the gym during your workday, over lunch, or even schedule an active meeting with a colleague or client to go for a walk and talk. The goal isn’t to complete a certain number of work hours. It’s to offer flexibility and autonomy for employees to successfully integrate work into their lives without feeling guilty.
Marketers continue to level up their personalization to win and retain customers. Similarly, with four generations in the workplace, employers are tailoring their benefits to the needs of different populations. In early 2022, Evive released its findings from its annual National Employee Journey survey, which looked at employee benefits needs and preferences, based on the varying generations.
The survey asked employees to rank which benefits they would like to see. Each generation prioritized different benefits except for a four-day workweek, which was the only benefit that ranked No. 1 consistently throughout all four generations. They included:
- Baby boomers – Four-day workweek, identity theft protection, flexible hours, financial planning, and fitness perks
- Gen X – Four-day workweek, flexible hours, fitness perks, student loan assistance, and financial planning
- Millennials – Four-day workweek, flexible hours, fitness perks, student loan assistance, and tuition reimbursement
- Gen Z – Four-day workweek, student loan assistance, financial planning, and Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Organizations must adopt a multigenerational benefits strategy that addresses the distinctive needs of different generations in the workforce to build employee loyalty, compete in the marketplace, and promote employee health and well-being.
In the same National Employee Journey survey by Evive, financial planning was one of the least frequently offered benefits, with 15% of employees saying it was an option at their company. Yet it was also one of the most desired benefits of those not offered, with 25% expressing interest in it.
Financial wellness benefits help employees plan for emergencies, provide financial education, debt and budget management, and may even assist with portfolio management. Companies should offer financial counselors or workshops on savings strategies, risk management, estate planning, and retirement planning.
In addition, benefits such as Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), 401(k), or individual retirement accounts help defer costs and allow for savings to grow tax-free.
Employers that offer holistic financial wellness solutions to their workforce bolster productivity and help employees feel more secure in their current and future financial situation. Financial wellness benefits also reduce employee turnover and drive business performance because employees are not distracted by financial worries.
Well-Being and Mental Health
Evive’s National Employee Journey study also found:
- Ninety percent of employers stated that they offered additional mental health and other resources to employees due to the pandemic. However, only 57% of employees agreed.
- More than 40% of employees were unaware of their employee-sponsored mental health benefits.
- Only 60% of employees felt their employer was concerned about their well-being.
Employers should continue enhancing their mental health and well-being benefits to support their staff emotionally, psychologically, and socially. Employers must go beyond on-site or remote exercise classes or meditation and mindfulness sessions, and offer therapy to employees to improve depression, anxiety, and stress. Employers can also provide more social networking events, opportunities for employees to volunteer and make meaningful contributions to their community, or training that helps staff develop coping strategies, think positively, and manage stress.
Personalized Benefits Communication
Employees are at different life stages and geographic locations, which requires the right strategy to communicate with employees. Many organizations have turned to technology to automate employee messaging about benefits information relative to their individual needs. For example:
- Communications Employees will Open: Most employee communications occur over email, but different employees have different communication preferences. Employees should indicate how they prefer to receive communications. Employers can implement technology that can automate messages based on their employees’ preferences, such as text, push notifications, or email. As a result, employers reach employees with benefits information based on their communication choice, ensuring a positive experience and increasing open rates to ensure the information is received, opened, and read.
- Anticipate and Predict Employee Needs with Data: Predictive analytics is about making reliable In the consumer world, it predicts customer purchases, but in the workplace, it can determine employee responses and help support the utilization of healthcare, financial, and well-being benefits. Here’s how:
Communications Employees will Open: Most employee communications occur over email, but different employees have different communication preferences. Employees should indicate how they prefer to receive communications. Employers can implement technology that can automate messages based on their employees’ preferences, such as text, push notifications, or email. As a result, employers reach employees with benefits information based on their communication choice, ensuring a positive experience and increasing open rates to ensure the information is received, opened, and read.
Anticipate and Predict Employee Needs with Data: Predictive analytics is about making reliable In the consumer world, it predicts customer purchases, but in the workplace, it can determine employee responses and help support the utilization of healthcare, financial, and well-being benefits. Here’s how:
- Encourage benefits usage: Seventy-nine percent of employees said reminders about available benefits in emergencies would be helpful, according to Evive’s survey. Another 62% percent said general health screening reminders would be beneficial, and 51% of employees said they would find health screening reminders for a covered spouse/partner helpful. Technology can help employees prioritize and organize tasks, minimize missed screenings, and provide ongoing care. Platforms that offer several automated functions can help notify and alert employees about annual check-ups and exams, HSA and FSA funds, EAP, and other employee benefit options, ensuring available benefits don’t get overlooked.
- Communicate Year-Round: Employers must communicate available benefits to employees beyond their open enrollment or onboarding period. Employers that provide benefits guidance year-round improve utilization, save money, and create cross-departmental alignment. Human resources can add benefit information to existing digital or internal platforms, start an ongoing conversation with employees about available benefits and empower managers to speak with employees about organizational offerings.
Know Your Employee’s Needs
Administrators, personnel, trustees, and advisers dedicate their services to creating and providing the best benefits packages possible to employees. It’s now up to us to give employees the benefits they need and want, help our employees make the best use of their benefits packages, educate staff about benefit topics and adapt our communications based on their individual needs and preferences.
For more information on putting together a personalized benefits framework, visit https://goevive.com/latest/thinking/best-practices-benefits-framework/. Happy #NationalEmployeeBenefitsDay.