Jan 18, 2021

Employee Benefits Trends to Watch in 2021

As businesses are getting more and more employee-focused, creating a competitive benefits package has become one of the principal tasks for human resource management. Well-tailored benefits offerings remain one of the top strategies to hire and retain talent. Not to mention, benefits can help you differentiate your business from competitors. The needs of the workforce are changing as the workforce demographics change. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer that a standard employee benefits package which was considered quite sufficient 10 years ago doesn’t reflect employee needs today. Consequently, companies are looking for the new ways to make their benefits stand out. Stay with us to find out about the current employee benefits trends and those to grow in 2021.

Current Trends in Employee Benefits to Stay

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the landscape of work on a global scale. Businesses had to reconsider a range of HR processes, benefits management being not an exception. Let’s take a closer look at some current trends in employee benefits administration that are very likely to stay in 2021 and beyond.

More remote work opportunities

As 2020 was all about remote work, companies had to make all the necessary arrangements to make it possible and successful. Having hands-on experience of working from home, employees find it important to have remote work opportunities as a component of their employee benefits package. Undoubtedly, this trend will grow, not only because of health concerns, but also because it’s convenient in many ways. For example, it saves the time people usually spend on commuting. Plus, offering this kind of perk is beneficial for the employer as well, for instance, it can help reduce costs such as office space rent. To top it off, offering remote work options lets reach broader talent pools, as the geographic location doesn’t matter any more. 

Flexible paydays

To enhance the overall employee experience, some companies included the ability to be paid at a time of their choice, not just on payday, into the benefits package they offer. According to a CNN Business report, Walmart, Noodles & Company, Uber and Lyft started to provide flexible pay as part of their employee benefits packages even earlier. Giving employees more control of their finances is a reasonable way to eliminate their need to use payday lenders, and, as a result, pay high interest rates.

Adoption of technology

The newest generation of employees are well accustomed to technology, so they expect employers to use technology, including HR tools for benefits administration. Lots of companies have already adopted benefits management software, and this trend is definitely going to develop in our digitally-powered world. In the first place, these tools allow for creating tailored experiences by understanding what different employees prefer, and design benefits to best address their needs. Secondly, and of no less importance, HR technology allows employees to take charge of their own benefits decisions.

Professional development

If compared to the past several decades, companies are now investing in their employees’ professional development more heavily. One of the ways to encourage professional development is to offer education options within the regular benefits package. It’s not surprising that professional development is on the rise as it helps to improve employees’ skills and performance, increase productivity, maximising the value of employees to the company, and, finally, help businesses handle change more effectively, as employees are continuously updating their skills.

Family-centered options

For the last few years, the benefits landscape has seen a rise of employee benefits that support the workers as they grow their families. These benefits typically include adoption benefits, family planning, child care, elder care and financial wellness programs. Providing family-oriented benefits enables businesses to stay competitive, and this trend will continue to develop. It’s very likely that these benefits will also become more inclusive, and available for employees regardless of their family status, gender or orientation.

Trends to Watch in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges for companies and highlighted the excessive amounts of stress employees have to deal with in their everyday lives. Therefore, employers who focus on employees' needs are the ones who come out strongest. It’s fair enough to say that today employees' needs are shaping the trends for employee benefits. Here are employee benefits trends that are projected to increase in importance in 2021.

Healthcare plan transformation

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), health insurance premiums have increased by 54 per cent over the last decade. Plus, employees had to shoulder 71 percent of the burden. Obviously, things need change, especially taking into account the fact that employers and employees aren’t no longer able to afford rising premiums.Therefore, organizations have to look for innovative healthcare plans that can help employees deal with the rising cost of benefits more efficiently. That suggests contracting directly with service vendors that specialize in narrow areas. This will ensure quality care at a set, contracted rate. Whatever the case, new healthcare plans appear to be on the horizon.

Telehealth benefits

Although telehealth and telemedicine have been around for several decades, they are going to gain momentum in 2021. Telehealth benefits appeal to employees who seek non-emergency care from the comfort of their own homes, decreasing the risk of spreading illnesses and infections. Not to mention, telehealth is a solution to provide medical access to people in remote locations. Without any doubt, telehealth benefits are going to transform the way patients receive medical care. Offering this kind of benefit, employers can immensely improve their employees’ access to care, reduce their medical costs and save them time, which will lead to more productivity and efficiency at work.

Non-medical offerings

Today, businesses need to offer benefits that respond to the needs of today's diverse, multigenerational workforce. That’s why providing employees with a wider variety of options that meet their needs is becoming more essential than ever before. Innovative employers have already started to offer a range of options not only within health care, but also finance and lifestyle. This is where personalized benefits packages come into play.A company can offer a package that includes basic health insurance and paid time off benefits for all employees. Then, workers can add benefits from an array of options. The choice is immense, and each company needs to choose benefits that can best meet the needs of their workforce, taking demographics into account in the first place. Non-medical benefits may include gym memberships, pet insurance, vision and dental insurance, short-term disability, access to legal services, free day care services, free coffee, free employee outings, and even more. 

Increased focus on mental health

Over the last year, the focus on mental health has substantially increased. It’s not surprising, as employees started to feel more isolated due to coronavirus related lockdowns and social distancing measures, and, as a result, experience higher levels of anxiety. Also, for many employees who work remotely, it can be hard to balance personal life and work. To help the employees handle these issues, employers can offer benefits, such as mental health coverage, stress management programs, mental health assessments, mental health education, or mindfulness classes. According to Pacific Prime Global Employee Benefits Trends Report 2020, the number of companies in the US that offer mental health benefits increased by 26% in 2020, and this trend will certainly continue to grow 2021.

Final Thoughts

All in all, with a workforce that is now composed of four generations, companies need to be prepared to offer benefits that meet the unique needs of their staff. To stay competitive, employers have to catch on with the trends and develop innovative approaches to benefits management. Actually, a strong benefits strategy will pay off in the long run as it provides multiple advantages to both the staff and the business as a whole.

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