Salaries and wages account for most employees’ compensation, but they aren’t the only compensation employees receive. For most employees, benefit offerings account for an increasing portion of total compensation.

Previously, employee benefits primarily consisted of health insurance and a retirement plan. Health insurance has remained a central employee benefit, although there are now more options for employees who don’t have access to an employer-provided plan. With the Revenue Act of 1978, the primary retirement plan switched from pensions to 401(k)s. Employers now also need to consider how healthcare costs impact the selection and management of health insurance plans to provide comprehensive coverage while managing expenses.

What wasn’t nearly as common until recently were ancillary benefits, ranging from vision insurance to parking reimbursements. While some employees might’ve had access to these, ancillary benefits weren’t nearly as available or considered as much when evaluating compensation. To attract and keep top talent today, employers need to understand the role that benefits have in employee compensation and well-being. That includes understanding why benefits are important, knowing what benefits employees value, how to administer meaningful ones efficiently, and generally being aware of current trends in employee benefits.

Major Trends Influencing Employee Benefits Today

The broad trends in employee benefits have been a move toward greater diversity. Employers have expanded the variety of benefits they offer in recent years and will almost certainly continue to provide more varied benefits in coming years.

More Varied Benefits Available to Employees

The ancillary benefits that employees may have access to are diverse.

Health insurance, pet insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off remain central, but there are many others, too. Even time off — which can now include unlimited vacation or flexible work options— shows how the top employee benefits are sometimes more varied.

Newer benefits add even more variety to what’s offered. For example, a growing number of employers are offering:

  • Insurance Coverage (dental, vision, short-term disability, long-term disability, life)
  • Wellness Programs (discounted gym memberships, activity reward programs, weight loss programs, wellness challenges focused on improving physical health)
  • Mental Health Support (mental health services coverage, in-house counseling, employee assistance programs)
  • Educational Assistance (tuition reimbursement, student loan assistance, professional development stipends)
  • Commuter Benefits (pre-tax mass transit and parking programs, ride-share allowances, parking assistance, EV chargers)

Ready to make a change? Learn more about our employee benefits administration and take the first step towards a happier, healthier team.

Wellness and Mental Health is Valued

Following the culture, many employers show that they value employees’ well-being through wellness and mental health benefits. These, in particular, deserve to be underscored among the many different ones listed above.

Wellness programs mainly focus on being active. The most obvious are activity reward programs, where employees use wearable technology to track their activity. For example, they might be rewarded for taking so many steps or exercising for so long. Others include discounted gym memberships, on-site exercise equipment, and reduced fitness classes.

Mental health support can come in the form of direct mental health services or indirectly through other methods. A growing number of employers offer health plans that include coverage for mental health services, and some larger employers offer in-house counseling on a short-term basis. Employee assistance programs could help with everything from counseling and therapy to weight loss and quitting smoking.

Which of these are offered depends on employer size and what’s chosen by an employer. In many cases, smaller employers can offer these benefits by working with an employee benefits administrator or selecting a robust health insurance plan.

Ready to elevate your employee benefits offerings? Learn more about our services and discover how we can help tailor a plan that meets your unique needs.

Adjusting Benefits for Remote Workers

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, a sudden rise in remote workers has necessitated rethinking how some benefits are offered.

One of the biggest changes is more flexible work arrangements regarding when employees work. Being able to adjust what hours and/or days they work lets employees manage work-life balance while also being home or while traveling to take advantage of opportunities that working remotely affords. Time off plans are sometimes adjusted to better accommodate working remotely while enhancing the employee experience.

Many other changes seek to extend benefits to employees who aren’t regularly (or perhaps ever) in the office. For insurance:

  • Gym membership reimbursements are taking the place of on-site exercise equipment or reduced local fitness glasses.
  • Activity rewards increasingly use wearable technology so that employees in different areas can participate together.
  • Mental health support usually includes telehealth services, whether provided via in-house counselors or an external provider.
  • Professional development can include companywide webinars, reimbursement for online courses, and book stipends.
  • Commuter benefits might be optional, allowing employees to participate only if they benefit them.

More Personalized Benefits Options

With the increased diversity in benefits and other changes, employers are making it easier for employees to personalize their benefits. Many are optional perks, so employees can choose what they want. Computer benefits are just one example.

If many optional benefits are offered, human resources staff should be well-versed in how each benefit could help different employees.

Technological Advances in Benefits Administration

Part of the changes in what benefits are available is how the benefits are provided. Wearable tech and remote offerings are tangible ways technology influences access to benefits. It’s also being used behind the scenes to improve benefits programs.

Online platforms make accessing benefits easier for employees. They can review their benefits selections, make allowed changes, learn how to use benefits and file reimbursement claims anytime and from home. This also saves HR reps time, as they have fewer questions and less paperwork.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are used to personalize employee benefits. These technologies can analyze large datasets to identify patterns and preferences, which can then be used to tailor benefits programs to individual employees. Aggregate data can also be analyzed to see what benefits different types of employees value.

Future Predictions for Employee Benefits

In the next few years, the same broad employee benefits trends will likely continue. Employees will want:

  • Varied benefits options they can choose from
  • Mental health and remote work benefits programs
  • Online access to benefits information 24/7

Adapting to these trends requires rethinking traditional employee benefits. Even something as basic as health insurance should be reviewed so that it can include mental health and telehealth services. With some creativity, ancillary benefits like flex time, activity reward programs, and parking assistance can be offered with minimal costs. These can make a big difference to employees, even if they’re comparatively minor perks.

It’s also essential to offer benefits information through an online portal. Larger companies might do this via an in-house web development team, but smaller employers will likely want to partner with a third-party administrator (TPA) like Progressive Benefit Solutions. Reach out today to explore how you can streamline benefits and administration and enhance employee satisfaction.

Employee Benefits Challenges and Opportunities for Small Businesses

Each employer will face its own specific challenges and opportunities when reviewing employee benefits. However, there are two broad ones that many small businesses ought to consider.

Small employers with remote workers may hire people in different states and countries. Few small businesses have the resources to navigate benefits requirements in various jurisdictions. To address this challenge, small employers can work with a TPA that offers national or global benefits assistance.

At the same time, small employers can attract high-quality talent by offering meaningful benefits with minimal expenses. Many employees value a flexible work schedule and a remote work option, yet they don’t have to cost a small business much. Another strategy might be to partner with other small businesses, offering each business’s employees discounts or other perks.

Step Into the Future of Employee Benefits

Chances are your business isn’t offering all of these employee benefits. There are likely some places where you could adjust and improve your employee benefits offerings, keeping in line with the employee benefits trends that are shaping today’s employment landscape.

Make those changes, and your employees — current and new — will value the changes. You may find that you’re attracting and keeping better talent. Don’t wait to provide the benefits your employees deserve. Contact Progressive Benefit Solutions and unlock the potential of a satisfied, productive workforce.