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ThinkstockPhotos-529682964-1.jpgEarlier this year, SHRM released its 2017 Employee Benefits Report, and the results are clear: Employee benefits are hot, and employers are using them to get the people with skills they need. According to the report, almost a third of companies increased their overall benefits offerings in the past year to remain competitive for talent. With more than two-thirds of companies reporting difficulties finding the employees with the skills they need, benefits are expected to play a strong role in whether a company is seen as an employer of choice. Here’s what you need to know to keep up.

What’s Hot

Confusion around health insurance over the past few years has increased employee focus on health insurance options, and employers have responded. According to the SHRM report, companies are adding wellness and health-related benefits, while health savings accounts, often paired with high deductible health plans, are on the rise.

Benefits that support work-life balance are also seeing a resurgence, as employers continue to add flexible work options and telecommuting. Professional development and financial advice are increasingly popular as well. Flexible spending accounts, service anniversary awards, compressed workweeks and long-term care insurance are on the decline, the report found.

Employers that want to take advantage of benefit trends should look for ways to offer products that help enhance any health insurance benefits they provide, while being open to low- to no-cost benefits that employees find valuable, such as flexible work or telecommuting.

The Growing Role of Financial Benefits

The report finds that employees are increasingly focused on financial issues — something we’ve noticed here at Winston as well. In 2014, only 28 percent of companies offered financial advice benefits, while 49 percent did so in 2017. As the benefits providers offer new options, employers are looking for ways to include financial benefits in their portfolios.

We’ve found that different generations are interested in different kinds of financial benefits — for example, millennials are concerned with student loan debt and are more interested in benefits such as tuition assistance or loan assistance. Older generations may be more interested in asset protection and retirement options. We’ve also seen more employers offer financial service plans to help manage, consolidate and pay off student loans.

Development and Retention

Generational needs are influencing other benefit choices as well. More than 20 percent of employees say a lack of career advancement opportunities inspire them to leave their employers, so more employers are looking at development to improve retention, succession planning and the education level of their workforces. Millennials in particular appreciate training and development as they look for ways to gain skills quickly.

Revisit your training budget and consider adding to it in order to increase skills among your workforce while boosting retention. By investing in your employees, you’re investing in your own organization as well.

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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.

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