Improving your company’s approach to employee benefits can be a challenge. In the ever-evolving benefits landscape, regulatory policies, budgets and employee demographics are just a few routinely shifting factors.
Hub International’s Employee Benefits Barometer 2018, which surveyed 337 employee benefits professionals from organizations with 50 to 1,000 employees, provides perspective on how employee benefits professionals are navigating these changes and challenges.
Here are some key elements from the survey to consider as you make decisions to provide cost-efficient benefits that promote employee health, productivity and engagement.
Managing Costs Is a Top Priority
Managing the costs of employee benefits was cited as a top priority by two-thirds of survey respondents. Guiding employees to make better benefits decisions and improving health and wellness were also leading priorities.
Employee choice and morale continue to play an important role in decision making. Voluntary benefits, high-deductible health plans and telemedicine are the most popular new cost-management strategies. For companies with health and wellness programs, HR professionals said they offer good return on investment, improve morale and productivity, and reduce stress.
Strategy in Employee Benefits Adds Value
A long-term strategic approach to employee benefits can be a stake in the ground for HR professionals when it comes to tackling priorities. Long-term planning, however, is not the norm. Only 2 percent of survey respondents said they plan employee benefits two years or more in advance. Two-thirds, on the other hand, plan benefits less than a year out.
Time may not always be available for planning and strategy. Making decisions can be a lengthy process, and decisions may be delayed until the last minute. Flux around benefits — whether related to regulatory policies, recruitment or other factors — may contribute to a more reactive than a proactive approach to planning.
Creating multi-year strategic plans that account for future risks and opportunities can add value. It can help employee benefits professionals stand out as strategic advisers who lead companies through the complex benefits landscape to better serve their employees and companies.
Opportunities Still Exist in Employee Benefits
Technology brings big opportunities to the world of employee benefits. Nearly half of survey respondents said better technology could reduce their workloads, particularly for professionals at larger companies. But C-suite executives may take some convincing that investing in technology is the best course to take, according to the study.
If you’re preparing to make important benefits decisions, here are a few additional takeaways from the survey:
- Although managing costs ranks as a top priority, roughly half of survey respondents said they do not plan to start new cost-management programs in the next year to 18 months. Most said they’ve done all they can to control medical costs.
- With ongoing uncertainty around federal health care policy, complying with government regulations is less of a priority than it was in recent years.
- When it comes to retirement benefits and protecting against cyberthreats, most survey respondents said they are confident that they are doing what they need to do to meet obligations to employees.
- Addressing the needs of a diverse workforce that crosses many generations is less of a priority than it was a year ago.
Winston Benefits is an HR solutions company that helps businesses enhance and optimize employee benefit plans, enrich compensation and rewards programs, and save money on benefits communication, enrollment and administration. Contact us to learn more.