3 Ways Employee Benefits Will Change in the Next 5 Years

As the future of work continues to rapidly evolve and organizations across every industry battle for top talent, cookie-cutter benefits packages just aren’t going to be enough to attract the best and brightest workers.

Smart organizations are turning to technology to reduce costs and deliver better benefits that lead to happier and more productive employees. Let’s take a look at how some of these trends are likely to unfold over the next few years.

Predictive Data for Health and Wellness

Wellness benefits have been on the upswing for several years now, but companies often blindly choose health and wellness programs based on trends that don’t necessarily fit their workforce. A number of technology firms are rolling out tools aimed at solving this problem through more robust data analytics and AI.

One such company is Springbuk, which offers employer-facing health analytics software designed to forecast costs and improve employees’ health. “For the employer, health care is their second-largest cost,” says Amy Brown, Springbuk’s vice president of health intelligence. “There’s been a lack of direction for employers in terms of knowing what are the biggest opportunities for cost savings and quality improvement for their population.”

The company’s technology analyzes employer-paid medical bills, pharmacy sales and payroll data to identify gaps in care and opportunities for savings. It seeks to go beyond traditional health care analytics to provide insights and actionable opportunities — for example, offering the ability to identify employees who are at risk of thyroid disease, stroke or diabetes based on an event-detection algorithm using a database of over 86 million claims.

Brown says organizations are eager to better use employee health data to take action and solve problems. “What are the opportunities that I can act upon today?” Brown says. “What we’re really trying to do is get ahead of the curve and think about ‘Who are those members that are going to be at risk for costs in the future, what can you do about that now, and what are the costs occurring today that you can also mitigate?’ It’s much more action-oriented and solution-oriented.”

Nontraditional Benefits to Reduce Financial Stress

MetLife’s 17th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, released this month, found that personal finances were the No. 1 source of stress for employees at all stages of their careers. One-third of employees admitted to being less productive at work because of financial stress.

The study indicates that while traditional financial benefits such as generous retirement plans are more in demand than ever, more robust financial wellness programs are on the rise as well.

Whether it’s student-loan payback assistance, supplemental insurance products or more robust retirement planning services, smart organizations are addressing productivity-killing financial stress head-on through creative benefits offerings.

“Financial wellness programs can help employees take more active control over their finances, both today and in the future, and give them the confidence they need to improve their situations,” the report says. “These programs help employees manage all aspects of their financial lives — including student-debt management, short- and long-term planning, college savings, retirement, and the role of insurance.”

More Individual Customization

The MetLife survey found that only 37% of employees strongly believe their employers’ benefits communication is customized to address their personal situations.

Employers, however, appear to be evolving. Fifty-seven percent of organizations said they’re committed to offering their employees a wider range of benefits, including non-medical supplemental benefits such as accident insurance, critical-illness insurance and legal services plans. That’s an increase of 7 percentage points over the 2018 survey, and experts say the customization trend is likely to accelerate in the coming years.

“Employee benefits will continue to evolve to follow closer to each individual’s unique lifestyle and choices,” says Rachel Lyubovitzky, CEO of EverythingBenefits, a benefits administration software firm.

Lyubovitzky says we can expect to see benefits such as the ability to work from interesting locales or more time off to pursue personal development and charitable causes to become more commonplace. “Telemedicine, pet insurance, legal services and financial literacy benefits will become the norm,” she says.