Employee Benefit News released a list of the nine employee benefit trends for the coming year. It should come as no surprise that employee wellness initiatives appeared frequently on the list. Specifically, financial wellness continues to pick up steam. Below is a summary of the emerging trends in 2018.
#1 Financial Wellness
According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), employers providing financial advice of any type increased to 49% from 37% five years ago. Roughly half of the SHRM members polled in the latest annual employee benefits survey said they offer investment planning, 48% offer individual retirement planning and 44% offer retirement-preparation advice.
#2 Student Loan Assistance
Employers continue to look at ways they can help employees deal with student loan debt. Growing student debt has resulted in younger employees not being able to participate in a 401(k) plan, impacting the financial wellness of an organization.
#3 Cadillac-style Health Coverage
“By postponing the proposed 40% excise tax on Cadillac-style health plans under the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers preserved a competitive balance in tight labor markets.” By being able to provide gold and platinum type plans, employers in competitive labor markets like San Francisco can compete on health coverage benefits to win talent.
#4 Convergence Of Healthcare And Retirement
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) continue to grow in popularity with the rise of high-deductible health insurance plans. Employers are increasing their efforts to help employees prepare for future healthcare expenses in retirement through vehicles like HSA accounts.
#5 Handholding Guidance
Employers should anticipate “regulatory or legislative clarification on whether certain pro-retirement plan designs and features are acceptable. Examples include a stretch match, which raises up to 12% the threshold for matching deferred pay, and changes to preretirement distributions aimed at reducing so-called leakage.” This regulatory guidance will encourage employers to pursue more aggressive strategies to boost retirement savings.
#6 Workplace Wellness
Nearly a quarter of participants in SHRM’s latest benefits survey plan to increase their wellness benefits. While only 7% of organizations offer meditation and mindfulness programs to help reduce stress, this number is expected to increase.
#7 Flexible Work Schedules
“Telecommuting on an ad hoc basis rose to 59% in 2017 from 45% in 2013, while flextime benefits have remained stable during that time frame at 57%. The number of companies offering a compressed workweek, however, fell to 29% this year from 35% in 2013.”
#8 Paid Leaves Of Absence
As employers look to be more family friendly to attract and retain talent, paid leaves of absences, especially for maternity and paternity benefits, will continue to grow in 2018.
#9 Flat Fees For Brokers
Rather than being paid based on a percentage of premium, which incentivizes higher premiums, employers are pushing health insurance brokers to be paid on a fixed fee basis for a strategic set of services.