5 Benefit Trends to Watch in 2018

The battle over the Affordable Care Act, the consumerization of benefits, and the gig economy were some of the major headlines grabbing the attention of benefits administrators, brokers, and business owners in 2017.

So which trends will dominate and continue to define the benefits landscape in 2018?

Here are few hot topics to watch in the new year.

Benefits: The not-so-secret weapon in the war for talent

With the unemployment rate at a 17-year low, business owners and HR leaders are scrambling to find and retain top talent. Today, it’s not a matter of whether,but how to use benefits offerings to lure and keep people engaged. According to a study by the ADP Research Institute®, the cost of a benefits package is one of the top three factors that impact job consideration.

Innovative companies are realizing the importance of tying their benefits to their talent strategy. Employees want to feel that that their employer understands what they need in their life at every stage, so offering benefits that appeal to a multi-generational workforce is vital.  For example, millennials may value student debt loan repayment, where Gen Xers may prefer help with fertility treatment payments, and baby boomers may prioritize health benefits for chronic conditions. You need to ensure that every employee sees their benefits as part of their total compensation, which ultimately can contribute to better talent retention and recruitment.

Using data to effectively market and communicate benefits

Benefits mean nothing if you aren’t marketing them to both candidates and employees in an effort to continuously differentiate your clients’ company from the competition. Do your clients’ career sites accurately reflect the benefits they offer? Many companies underutilize this extremely important asset that can make or break whether a candidate even gives a  company a second look. Collect and analyze data to find out what’s important to the people your clients are looking to recruit and then highlight those benefits in job postings.

Also, use the company’s internal data to target employees in real-time. Instead of sending a broad communication to an entire employee population via paper or email, push information to specific employees during the decision cycle to let them know what benefits people “like them” are selecting.

Mobile benefits enrollment picks up steam

People are already using their mobile devices for some of their most important tasks—handling their finances, finding a date, driving from one location to another—so why should benefits enrollment be any different? Now that more than 10,000 boomers are retiring from the workforce daily and being replaced by millennials and Gen Zers, mobile benefits enrollment will soon explode. While the technology has been available, companies have been reluctant to put the entire benefits shopping experience in the hands of employees so they can enroll anytime, anywhere. This will change as more employees demand the type of online, mobile shopping experience they encounter in all other areas of life.

“Alexa, tell me about my health plan options.”

Artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized mainstream consumer technology through friendly, everyday voice assistants like Alexa and Siri. AI assistants like them will eventually help employees make data-driven benefits decisions.

As AI voice assistant technology continues to evolve, it will eventually be able to send targeted benefits communications in real time. For example, using employee data, AI technology can reach to certain employees who have a high deductible health plan and ask, “Have you considered enrolling in an HSA?” In turn, the employee can inquire further, “What’s an HSA” and the system can explain more, and even share past years’ benefits data to help the employee make a better informed decision. While still in the early stages, this type of targeted, intelligent benefits communication will continue to emerge in the coming years. The user experience of the future will not just be about what software looks like, but ultimately how a piece of technology engages with employees to help guide their benefits choices.

New and novelty benefits

Last year, new, non-traditional benefits included things like “paw-ternity leave” and wedding reimbursements. This year, a number of new, novelty benefits have begun to crop up. Instead of offering retention bonuses, some employers are now using non-interest-bearing loans that can go toward housing down payments as a retention tool. For example, employers might offer a $20,000 loan, which is decremented a few thousand dollars every year the employee remains with the company. Other companies have begun to explore offering genetic testingbenefits as a wellness initiative, and identity theft protection amid increasingly common personal data breaches.

As employers consider broadening their benefits offerings this year, it’s always helpful to consult a broker or benefits technology provider. These resources can help them understand what benefits are missing from their basket and help them pick the right policies so they’re affordable to employees. Remember: Don’t underestimate the power of benefits when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Benefits offerings can provide that extra boost needed to not only get top talent through the door, but keep them there.


Read full article at: http://www.benefitspro.com/2018/01/29/keep-an-eye-on-these-5-benefits-trends-in-2018?et=editorial&bu=BenefitsPRO&cn=20180130&src=EMC-Email_editorial&pt=Broker%20Innovation%20Lab%20Notes