As you make strategic decisions in the coming days on what employee benefits your company is going to present at open enrollment, a package appealing enough to retain employees has to be just as top of mind as controlling costs.
An employer health and benefits strategies survey by Mercer indicates that 70% of your peers at large companies and 53% of small business leaders said they’re planning employee benefits program enhancements for 2023. And here’s what they have their eye on.
Workers who believe their employer cares about their health are less likely to leave their jobs. Paying for health care is a concern for many employees, particularly low-wage earners and those coping with chronic medical conditions.
Believe it or not, low-deductible (and even no-deductible) health plans – such as a copay-based
plan – are gaining in popularity with businesses like yours. According to the survey, 41% have one in place and 11% are considering it. Forty-five percent of surveyed small businesses have a low- or no-deductible plan.
Also, in the name of lower employee cost-sharing, nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents are either planning or considering leveraging a narrow/high-performance network plan.
Another interesting trend is salary-based contributions for making health plan premiums more affordable to lower-paid employees. Currently, 17% of employers use salary-based contributions, where people who make less money contribute less to their premiums, with the amount rising for those who make more. And nearly as many (15%) are considering it, the survey said.
But it’s important to be aware of the risk of turnover and recruitment difficulties among higher-paying job roles when employees or job candidates discover they’re paying more for their health insurance based on their pay.
The widespread use of telemedicine since 2020 has helped to lower healthcare costs, while also making health care more accessible. This has lead to the expansion of the virtual care solutions market, and it’s piqued the interest of your peers.
Over half (52%) of employers will offer virtual behavioral health care in 2023, and 40% will offer a virtual
primary care physician network or service. Virtual specialty care is being offered by 21%, according to the survey.
Behavioral/well-being health care
The more open discussions about mental health that began in 2020 got your peers thinking about the return on investment (ROI) from employees that are more productive and engaged because they’re emotionally, socially and financially healthy.
Support resources that surveyed employers are planning or considering offering in 2023 include:
- Employee assistance program services, 67%
- Online resources like apps, classes or articles, 62%
- Providing manager training in recognizing employee behavioral health issues and steering them to appropriate resources, 35%
- Providing employee training in recognizing peer behavioral health issues and steering them to appropriate resources, 26%, and
- Conducting a behavioral health anti-stigma communications campaign, 25%.
Enhanced support for women’s reproductive health
There are signs employers are paying closer attention to the special needs of women. Specialized benefits either being offered next year or being considered are:
- High-risk pregnancy support, 27%
- Lactation support, 22%
- Preconception family planning, 19%
- Postpartum support, 14%
- Pregnancy loss support, 13%, and
- Menopause support, 4%.
It should be noted that the Mercer survey was conducted just before word got out about the Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization initial draft majority opinion that abortion isn’t a constitutional right.
Employee benefits that may depend on demographics
Huddling with HR to get a general idea of your workforce’s diverse lifestyles and stages of life can provide key strategic information for selecting perks that truly add value for your people.
Here are some noteworthy employee benefits that survey participants indicated they were offering next year or were considering:
- Tuition reimbursement, 75%
- Supplemental life/individual disability insurance, 63%
- Personal identity/password protection programs, 31% (since individuals also need fraud protection)
- A stipend for home office supplies, 23%
- Free or subsidized meals at work, 22%
- Student loan financing assistance, 14% (which could be particularly appealing to younger workers like Gen Z and Millennials), and
- Employer-paid legal services, 14%.
Employee benefits that stand out
A report by HRMorning.com compiled some thoughtful and outside-the-box ideas for employee benefits that might be worth asking your head of HR to survey your staffers about. A few of the highlights:
- Expanding PTO to include an extra day off to go to the doctor, a paid holiday that doesn’t count against vacation time for an employee celebrating his or her birthday, time off to attend their children’s events or a winter break, such as Dec. 24-Jan. 1
- An employer-funded “lifestyle account” that gives employees a certain amount each year to spend on a variety of wellness and health expenses
- Employer contributions to a dependent care FSA or discount agreements with childcare facilities (Ask any parents at your company with young children, and they’re likely to tell you that the cost of child care takes a big chunk out of their household budget.), and
- In-office massages to fend off stress and burnout.