It’s still early in the new year, yet employee benefits are already taking center stage. Cities and states around the U.S. are bringing forward new legislation around parental leave, including California Governor Gavin Newsom, who recently proposed a plan to offer new parents six months paid leave. The government shutdown has also drawn focus to federal workers, and the benefits and protections they have in place.
In this competitive talent market, it is vital for benefits professionals to stay up to date with the latest trends and be cognizant of what lies ahead.
Outlined below are the key benefits trends that benefits professionals must look out for in 2019 and beyond:
1. Globalization is accelerating: The technology industry has seen an enormous amount of change over the last two decades, from the Internet of Things (IoT) to mobile devices and artificial intelligence (AI). Companies are continually looking to adopt global technology to meet the demand of their global operations.
For multinational organizations, it is no longer a question of if they will implement global technology to run their benefits programs, but when. Organizations are four times more likely to be effective or very effective in their benefits strategy by simply establishing a global approach. This can make all the difference in the ongoing struggle to attract and retain top talent. As companies begin to implement a global benefits strategy, they must also make sure they are taking the needs of their employees across geographies into account.
2. Mental health benefits are on the rise: Emotional and mental health is now at the forefront of many benefits strategies, as employers recognize the need for more support for their employees both inside and outside of the workplace. In the U.S. alone, approximately 1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness annually, amounting to 43.8 million people. Despite this, our survey findings reveal that 57 percent of employees want support to improve their mental well-being, while only 23 percent of employers offer benefits for this. Market-leading employers are tackling this by offering a range of benefits, including health insurance plans with mental health coverage and employee assistance programs (EAP).
3. Artificial intelligence and data analytics: AI is already integrated into countless tools to help employees make decisions about their health care benefits. AI promises to revolutionize HR departments, specifically by leading to improved benefits design. By using data from benefits platforms and understanding employees’ behavior, AI has the capability of anticipating and delivering customized benefits based on individual’s past behaviors. HR and reward teams should also be harnessing the power of data, to assess the effectiveness of their benefits program, identify areas for improvement and with the help of AI, predict future benefits trends in their workforce.
Employee engagement continues to be a core focus for organizations, with this becoming increasingly critical as global work forces expand. With 2019 comes the opportunity for benefits and HR professionals to revolutionize their approach to benefits. With the help of technology, benefits programs are becoming progressively targeted and relevant for individuals no matter where they work, helping organizations hold on to happier, healthier, more productive and ultimately more engaged employees.