Today’s employees are demanding more from their organizations in terms of how they are supported physically, mentally, and beyond.
By Zee Johnson
Workplace benefits have never been more important. Employees and employers have long understood the pertinence of a good benefits package that includes options for health insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance, and more. But now, the demand for all-encompassing, comprehensive packages has skyrocketed and if companies don’t tailor their offerings to meet current and future needs, they run the risk of losing talent in an employee market.
The pandemic motivated many workers, especially Millennials, to plan for the worst. And traditional health insurance won’t cut it anymore. Aflac’s Workplace Benefits Trends report found that COVID-19 has had a great impact on how three in five workers make their benefits decisions. Further, just under half of employees and 63% of Millennials purchased at least one supplemental benefit because of the pandemic. Twenty-two percent added on life insurance (34% for Millennials), 16% added critical illness insurance (23% for Millennials), and 14% added mental health resources (21% for Millennials).
More non-traditional benefits like increased PTO and flexible working options have also become wildly appealing to employees. In fact, the report found that employees who had additional paid time off after a COVID-19 diagnosis were more likely to believe their employers cared about their physical and mental well-being.
To remain desirable, employers are listening to worker requests and adding to their benefits packages. However, many are grumbling at the cost.
While employers are actively investing in their workforces, these extra expenses threaten to dampen benefits offerings by pushing their budgets to the max. Sixty percent of businesses said they’ve noticed an increase in benefits cost over the past year, which could negatively impact operating plans, including the quality of their benefits program overall. And due to rising healthcare costs, businesses have been forced to make changes. Thirty-seven percent increased their employees’ share of healthcare premiums, 31% increased employee deductibles, and 24% reduced the number of health plan options.
But, regardless of any downsides, companies must be realistic and communicative about what they are able to do. The report found that many employers have an improbable sense of how satisfied employees are with their benefits packages—a 14-point gap in fact. While 76% of employers thought their employees were happy with their benefits packages, only 62% of employees could confirm this thought. Additionally, the report revealed that companies were 20% more satisfied with their COVID-19 response than employees were with their organization’s approach. Because of this, one in five employees say they plan to seek new employment.
Another way companies can ensure their employees are well-informed on their offerings is by helping them understand exactly what they’re getting. They can do this by pairing employees with consultants who are equipped to make sense of it all. In fact, 39% of Millennials say having access to a benefits advisor is very important and 37% of overall respondents say it is extremely important.
In today’s market, attracting and retaining talent has become challenging. A proven way to get and keep top performers is by offering a benefits package that extends far beyond healthcare. Now, employees are looking for companies who care about them all the way around. Employers need to expand on their benefits programs to stand out as a top-tier organization.