Back in December, we wrote an article that discussed employee benefits that were trending upward
in terms of demand and usage going into 2018.
For employers, especially small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), keeping up with the latest developments in employee benefits is a must. Doing so can help companies continuously improve overall benefit plans, and make a business more appealing to current and prospective employees.
Now that we are halfway through 2018, we wanted to explore more employee benefits that are growing in popularity, especially with open enrollment season around the corner.
Below are 6 more employee benefits that SMB leaders should know about as we move closer to 2019.
1) Paid Parental Leave
Over the last several years, paid leave policies have become increasingly popular for both employees and employers
. SHRM’s annual benefits survey found that the percentage of employers offering paid maternity leave has increase from 26% in 2016 to 35% in 2018.
In that same time frame, paid paternity leave has also increased – from 21% in 2016 to 29% in 2018. Both of these numbers are expected to rise once again in 2019.
We have also seen a rise in larger employers deciding to offer generous paid family leave policies in an effort to attract and retain top talent as recruiting has become more challenging.
Lastly, there has been a growing number of states and municipalities that are taking paid leave into their own hands by creating legislation to improve this important area.
Earlier this year, New York became the latest state to enact a paid family leave law
, joining New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California. More states are expected to adopt paid family leave legislation in the coming years.
2) Student Loan Assistance
Higher education costs have soared in recent years, leaving recent college graduates with large amounts of debt. This is especially true for today’s younger generations of workers.
Once again, some employers are seeing student loan assistance benefits as a way to distance themselves from their competition for top-talent, and attract the best recent graduates.
This benefit has been slow to be adopted so far, with a SHRM survey from 2017 finding that only around 4% of companies offering these types of benefits.
However, many experts expect student loan benefits to pick up rapidly
over the next several years as the war for talent becomes even more challenging. Doing so may help forward-thinking businesses overcome their recruiting challenges.
3) Workplace Wellness Initiatives
In recent years, employers have taken significant strides to improve the wellbeing of their employees, both in and out of the office.
In our post last December, we mentioned workplace wellness as one of the growing trends in employee benefits, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
One specific trend with workplace wellness has been the rise of wellness rooms or locations in an office. These are private areas where employees can go to deal with a wide-variety of wellness issues, such as to decompress after a stressful meeting.
Some companies are even adding resources to these rooms, such as massage chairs, that help employees relax in the office.
Don’t expect workplace wellness initiatives, like wellness rooms, to decrease in popularity anytime soon.
4) Stress Management Programs
Workplace stress can be detrimental to an employee’s mental and physical wellbeing. Over the last decade, we have seen more employers take these concerns seriously and invest in strategies to help their employees handle stress.
Once such way is through stress management programs.
These programs can take numerous forms, including both in-person sessions and online courses, and help employees learn ways to better manage their stress. On-demand resources, which employees can utilize at any time and from any location, can be invaluable to reducing workplace stress.
Additionally, employers can use these programs as well as employee feedback to find ways they can help their employees reduce stress. Whether it is reducing workloads or hiring additional staff, employers who find ways to lower workplace stress set their employees up for a healthier and more productive work experience.
5) Health Savings Accounts
Healthcare costs in the United States rose to record highs in 2018, and it looks like 2019 will result in even higher premiums.
As healthcare has become more expensive, companies have begun to offer Health Savings Accounts
(HSAs). These high-deductible insurance plans also function as a tax-favored savings account that can be used toward numerous health-related expenses.
Additionally, they are often less expensive than other plans offered by employers or on the open market, helping employees contain their healthcare costs.
Three advantages to HSAs include:
- Contributions are tax-deductible
- Withdrawals are tax free to pay for qualified expenses
- Interest earnings are tax-deferred
Expect HSAs to continue their upward trend in 2019 and beyond as healthcare costs continue to rise.
6) Financial Education Resources
We have written before about how employers can help improve the financial wellness
of their employees.
Personal finance issues can negatively impact an employee’s overall mental and physical wellbeing, as well as affect their job performance.
The growing awareness of employee wellness and how finances impact it has led employers to take steps to assist their workforce. Once such way is by implementing and offering financial education resources for employees.
These can take several forms, including:
- Part of an employee assistance program (EAP)
- Access to financial experts
- Educational materials to help employees with various financial matters
- Formal training and education courses offered on-site or online
- On-demand videos and other resources
By helping employees with their financial wellness, employers show they truly care about the wellbeing of their employees, all while helping to improve productivity, happiness, and engagement.
What Employee Benefit Trends Will Come Next?
The last decade has seen a lot of new and innovative employee benefits emerge as employers look to increase their chances of bringing on new employees, and retaining the talent they already have.
Employers both large and small stand to benefit from continuously looking for ways to modernize and enhance their benefit packages.
Doing so will only help companies better compete in today’s recruiting and retention landscape!
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