From trends affecting today’s workplace, such as emerging technology, multi-generational work forces, and shifting HR roles, to economic disruption and organizational restructuring driven by COVID-19, change is unfolding rapidly. Your approach to Employee Benefits has never been more important. Let’s focus on some of the top employee benefits trends coming into 2021.
HEALTHCARE PLAN INNOVATIONS
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that health insurance premiums have grown by 54% over the last 11 years. (We’ve seen even more than that.) Moreover, employees have shouldered 71% of the burden. Things have come to a breaking point at which both employers and employees can no longer simply accept rising premiums. With this continued climb, employers are looking for ways to contain costs without cutting back on the quality of benefits. This may mean employers contract directly with specialists for certain medical needs or provide on-site primary care clinics, for example. Getting sound advice from a trusted advisor can drive innovation within your organization that results in cost-management and employee satisfaction.
We strive to develop healthcare benefits plans that guide employees to lower cost higher quality providers. If you’d like to learn more about trends, both LOCAL and nationwide, download the digital version of our 2020 Western Kentucky Employee Benefits Benchmarking Report (highlights) from the Peel & Holland home page.
ACCESS TO VIRTUAL CARE
2020 was the year of remote work and video conferencing. Some found it challenging, but one bright spot is the massive leap in telehealth availability. Last year, certain virtual care technology platforms saw an increase in activity of up to 41% between February & March 2020. Leveraging technology through phone or video interaction with healthcare providers has allowed individuals to receive necessary healthcare services. Telehealth is paramount for decreasing the risk of spreading illness. The rise in telehealth has also expanded rapid, quality care to rural areas. Employers need to be ready to offer and support a virtual care option, as it will become a “must have” element of a basic employee benefits offering.
FLEXIBLE WORK POLICIES
The pandemic has drastically changed the way American’s work, thrusting millions into a remote work scenario, whether they like it or not. For many, remote work has become an attractive alternative to a traditional commute to an office. According to a survey by Glassdoor, more than 60 percent of employees would have liked to continue working from home full-time even after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted if given the option. Just as many would consider applying for a position that is entirely remote when looking for a new job, so flexible work policies have become a way to attract and retain talent.
INCREASED FOCUS ON MENTAL HEALTH
One of the major outcomes of the lock down has been an increased emphasis on employees’ mental health. With many employees unable to leave their homes for weeks on end, the mental health toll from this previous year has yet to be fully been realized. Employers have certainly felt the effects on productivity due to mental health-related issues. Work/life balance has blurred; stress has made its way into families; financial burdens are cause of extreme distress; and fear of illness for employees and their family members is overwhelming. For obvious reasons, adequately addressing mental health needs will be more of a priority in 2021 when it comes to employee benefits.
Employee communication has always been of utmost importance for a successful business, but with the shift to remote work, clear, concise and transparent communication has taken on even more importance. With the rapid changes all employers have undergone in 2020, employee engagement is of paramount importance moving forward. HR professionals should plan for additional efforts around strengthening employee communication.
As our workplace environments continue to rapidly evolve, so too do the compliance considerations for human resources professionals. In a normal year, keeping up with and reviewing compliance guidelines is tedious. But in a year where the world was turned on its head, HR leaders have an even more difficult maze to navigate. Many employers are feeling overwhelmed and are concerned their current risk management strategies may not be up to the task in terms of insurance regulations and the unknowns. We recommend that employers align themselves with a trusted advisor. They should also take advantage of HR technology tools designed to manage the complexities of compliance.
EMPLOYEE BENEFITS COST CONTAINMENT
With the uncertainties of financial impacts, many employers scrambled to contain costs for their employee benefit plans. For some, this meant a shift to self-funded employee benefits. A self-funded benefits plan gives the employer more insight and control when it comes to the health benefits they provide to their employees and dependents. The employer is the owner of the plan and pays a fixed cost for plan administration, access to a network of doctors, and “stop loss” insurance that helps cover any unexpected high claims. With the right advisor, you can eliminate excessive risk exposure just like the insurance companies currently do, while offering better care to your employees. Other strategies can be implemented to better manage claims, provide access to the best care providers, and find the lowest-cost prescription drugs.
Our goal is to help employers focus on innovative healthcare plans with these employee benefits trends in mind. Those employers who do will be the ones who come out strongest in 2021 and beyond. If cost containment is a goal for 2021 within your organization, the Peel & Holland team of Employee Benefits experts is ready to help. Let’s talk soon!