Employee health benefits have long been an important part of the total compensation package employers provide to their employees. For many years, these benefit plans have remained static, but change is on the horizon. Personalized employee health benefits are just around the corner, and they are sure to have a profound impact on the entire employee benefits landscape.
A Diverse Workforce
One of the biggest reasons behind a push for more personalized employee health benefits is diversity. Today’s workforce looks very different from the workforce that existed 30, 40, 50+ years ago. Todays’ workforce is multigenerational. A shortage of workers means that many older employees are working longer; but there are still young workers just joining the workforce.
While working for a startup sounds exciting, unfortunately, startups don’t usually have a big bankroll available for compensation.
The other factor that has impacted the workforce is immigration. There has been an increase in immigration and a huge spike is expected in the coming years. According to HUB International’s Outlook on Employee Benefits in Canada, this immigration will have a big impact on the workplace – much the same as when the millennial generation entered the workforce.
This more diverse workforce expects equity and inclusion, and they all have different needs and wants when it comes to employee benefits. What does seem to be consistent across the board is that employees of all generations are expecting more from their benefits. This is challenging as high inflation means many employers are already struggling with increased costs.
Traditional Employee Benefits
Traditional employee benefits are one size fits all. This means the same benefits package and coverage are provided to all employees. The older, empty nest employee gets the same benefits as an employee with a young family; despite the likelihood that they have very different needs and wants.
Traditionally, an employee health benefits plan is cookie cutter for all companies, providing prescription drug coverage, paramedicals, dentals, life insurance, disability insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment coverage. It isn’t adjusted based on the audience. But sometimes traditions must change.
Personalized Employee Benefits
Personalized employee benefits are where the industry is heading. Just like work schedules are sometimes personalized to accommodate an employee’s needs, benefits will be personalized as well. Personalizing benefits will support a diverse workforce and they will engage and energize employees.
The starting point is to identify which benefits will best support the diverse employees at your company. This means collecting and analyzing employee and demographic data. Next, it’s time to look for ways to personalize the benefits offerings in a way that makes the most impact for each employee.
To a small degree, we already see this happening with some benefit plans. It has become more common for coverage to include a health spending account. This is a way to allow employees to choose how some of their benefit dollars are spent. We also see more “shared maximums” which gives employees the power to spend all of their coverage for a specific category on one type of practitioner, instead of having a set dollar amount for each practitioner.
Personalized employee benefits may mean different benefits program options are available. They will mean a departure from the “one size fits all” mentality, and an introduction of a customized approach to benefits. It will be important to also personalize the communications around benefits. This will help reach a diverse audience, motivate existing employees, and help attract new ones.
Personalized employee health benefits will mean that a plan must be maintained. Instead of launching a plan and keeping it the same for 5 years, it should be reviewed and tweaked yearly so that it stays relevant and impactful for employees.
The reason personalized employee benefits could be a game-changer is it will have a profound impact on employee satisfaction with the benefits plan. If employees are feeling supported, valued, and recognized as individuals, this will translate into better productivity, better health, better customer service, and better results!
It will also be an important tool in recruitment and retention. In the same report by HUB International, 70% of young employees say they would leave their current employer for improved benefits elsewhere. Personalized employee health benefits will help with retention, especially when the workforce today is so mobile. They will also help attract the best employees, who are your best tool for a successful business.
Moving away from a cookie-cutter employee benefits plan doesn’t have to break the bank. The most important way to control costs for any benefits plan is to build cost control into the benefits plan right from the start. There are a number of ways to control costs but also improve the benefits experience while doing so.
Disability management services are a great example. Including disability management services with disability coverage gives employees practical and emotional support while they are on leave. The services also help get the employee back to work as soon as they’re able. This isn’t just good for cost control; research shows that the sooner an employee returns to work, the more likely they are to return to pre-disability health. It’s a win-win.
Virtual pharmacy is another great example. Incorporating a virtual or central-dispensing pharmacy into your benefits plan helps control costs, but it is also good for employees. Employees like the convenience of having their prescription drugs delivered to their door, as well as automatic refills. Virtual pharmacy supports medication adherence, because patients are less likely to run out of their maintenance medication. It controls costs and improves the patient experience.
One of the best ways to control costs (both for a traditional benefits plan and for personalized benefits) is to educate employees so they can be responsible consumers of their benefits. Teach them the impact of their purchasing decisions and how those decisions may affect the longevity of the plan.
Good advice is key
Are you looking to move away from a cookie-cutter plan and towards a more personalized employee benefits experience for your workforce? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone or in-person or contact us for a comparison quote.
Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefit packages that work as hard as you do.