Take Stock of the Top Benefits Trends
Smart companies are always taking a fresh look at the benefits they're offering. Here is what's trending and what you might want to consider adding.
Student loan assistance
According to the Federal Reserve, Americans currently owe $1.5 trillion in student loans — the largest amount of nonhousing consumer debt, surpassing both auto loans and credit card debt.
However, only 4 percent of employers presently offer some type of student loan assistance. Normally, these employers contribute a monthly or yearly dollar amount, up to a specific maximum or until the debt is paid off.
More employers are expected to start helping employees with their student loan debt. Note that 65 percent of the current national student loan debt belongs to people under the age of 40. So, if your company employs people within that age group, you may want to look into this benefit.
Paid sick leave
Employees without paid sick leave are "three times more likely to delay seeking medical care" or three times more likely to not obtain any treatment at all, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. This can adversely affect the health and productivity of not just sick employees but also the employees around them. Recognizing these consequences, many employers, states and cities provide paid sick leave.
In 2019, employers can expect even more states and local governments to propose and enact mandatory sick leave policies. If your state doesn't require paid sick leave, this could change, so be sure to keep an eye out for regulatory changes.
Health insurance cost
The cost of group health insurance is predicted to rise 5 percent in 2019, reaching nearly $15,000 per employee, according to the National Business Group on Health. Typically, employers cover around 70 percent of the cost.
In 2019, employers are forecast to become even more proactive about curbing health care costs. For example, the implementation of virtual health care solutions has been identified as a top initiative for employers in 2019.
Flexible benefit plans allow employees to choose the benefits they want or need based on their personal situation. For instance, employees can select the health insurance plan, retirement options, and flexible spending account that best suit their individual needs.
Flexible benefits are gaining steam among employers, and this trend is predicted to continue in 2019. According to a 2018/2019 global survey by Thomson Online Benefits, 51 percent of surveyed organizations have implemented flexible benefit plans while 14 percent plan to do so in the future.
There's also a need for targeted communication of flexible benefits. For example, you should have a communications strategy that helps expecting parents and near-retirees understand the benefits available to them.
There's been a lot of buzz surrounding unlimited vacation or PTO, but in reality, employers have been slow to adopt this benefit. And those who offer it may be phasing it out in 2019.
Dice Insights reports that instead of giving unlimited PTO, employers are offering increased time off for specific reasons such as illness, maternity and paternity leave, or bereavement.