Employees’ wants and needs continued to take center stage for employer benefits programs in 2018. Employers across industries recognized that consumer-focused benefits options, better communications with employees and the adoption of benefits technology were key factors in recruiting and retaining top talent. And the fate of the Affordable Care Act continued to remain uncertain, which kept benefits leaders on their toes.
Let’s take a look back at lessons learned and top trends from 2018. Keep reading for the most popular topics on the Winston Benefits blog this year. We hope looking back will help you plan your discussion about your 2019 benefits strategy.
Best Benefits of 2018
What’s everyone else in your industry doing? What benefits are your top candidates looking for? Some of our most popular articles this year outlined the best benefits in industries such as hospitality, construction and manufacturing. In 2018 we also featured the best benefits in engineering, architecture, protective services, light manufacturing, municipal government, education, pharmaceuticals and elder care.
In all competitive fields, employers understand that top-of-the-line health care benefits are not the only factor to attract and retain employees. Offering other benefits, such as parental assistance and on-site services like health centers, is becoming more popular.
An Employee-First Approach
A year ago we predicted that “consumer” benefits would keep expanding, and that forecast came to pass in 2018. The focus continued to shift to keeping employees engaged and happy, with more employers weighing how to expand benefits offerings and streamline benefits implementation. Across the board, employers are considering offering many options to meet employees’ needs, such as health advocacy programs.
Although financial benefits, such as employee purchasing plans and tuition reimbursement programs, gained less traction than we anticipated, other consumer benefits were on the rise. For example, we saw a noticeable increase in employers offering identity-theft coverage to employees in light of high-profile data breaches.
Benefits Technology Adoption
As we forecast a year ago, more employers relied on technology to deliver benefits to their employees.
Employers and employees continue looking for digital solutions to improve the benefits experience, which led to a steady increase throughout 2018 in adoption of benefits administration technology.
The fifth annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study also found that employers were spending more on technology to meet the needs of their employees.
Communication Is Key
As we noted a year ago, employees value benefits most when they understand them. This year more companies invested in strengthening their benefits communication plan to boost their results, both for open enrollment and throughout the year.
In seeking to provide as much detail and transparency as possible, communication strategies crossed all channels, including in person, online and on the phone. In particular there was a notable increase in the adoption of digital communications like text and email campaigns.
As we plan for 2019, what benefits trends are on your radar?