The year 2020 could be a banner year of change for businesses, and not just because it’s a nice, round number. For one, millennials will make up more than half of all U.S. employees. Baby boomers will continue to exit the labor market just as rapidly as Gen Zers enter it, and about 4 in 10 workers, no matter their generation, will be freelancers. This workforce shift toward younger employees who want more flexibility is set to have a strong influence over 2020 employee benefit trends.
But don’t expect trendy perks like pawternity leave and unlimited vacation to gain much more traction than they already have. Employers still have rising health care costs to reckon with, after all.
That’s why 2020 presents employers with a unique challenge: find benefits that save money while staying relevant for millennials and Gen Z. Striking this balance will likely become especially attractive to the new talent your business needs as we move into the next decade.
Future Trends in Employee Benefits: Healthier, Happier People
Supporting a healthy workforce isn’t a new priority, but that’s exactly what savvy employers will emphasize moving into 2020. This is partially because healthier workers are more productive; also because employers continue to bear the rising costs of medical care.
According to a PwC medical cost trend report, three factors in particular send costs soaring:
- More and higher-priced medicines
- Increasing rates of chronic illness
- A clearer focus on mental health
Businesses that help offset those rising costs with well-crafted benefits packages will likely see some level of cost savings. But of course, it’s not just about the cost: The desires of your changing workforce matter, too. And what exactly do they want? According to benefits research from Mercer, they’d rather have the things you might expect: flexibility, purpose and a wellness-focused workplace.
As a result, it’s no surprise that the most effective 2020 employee benefit trends will try to find the common ground between delivering cost savings and supporting healthier, happier employees.
Trend 1: Work Site Wellness Clinics
One way to help tackle health care costs while empowering employees to manage their health is through the use of on-site wellness clinics. Next year, up to 65% of big businesses will do so, including brands that have already jumped on the trend, such as Whole Foods Market and Apple.
By offering a complete health care setting right at work, employers can make care more convenient and accessible. If an employee needs important screenings or physicals, they just walk over. Many companies have already seen a return on their investment through increased attendance at work.
In an age of increasing specialty care, some clinics are also moving their focus away from only servicing basic primary care needs — like flu shots and sick visits — to becoming a more well-rounded health source for employees, including specialists. Among many other advantages, this evolution helps accommodate the 40% of Americans who have a chronic disease.
Smaller businesses may not have the resources to build a work site clinic. However, employers can still reduce their health expenses by encouraging employees to make the most of cost-saving services, such as telehealth and value-based care.
Trend 2: Diverse Mental Health Services
Many employers work to fight the stigma of mental health concerns in the workplace. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just cover traditional talk therapy as part of your group health plan — employees need a greater emphasis on diversifying mental health support. Bringing mental health services to work site wellness clinics is one smart way of doing that.
Mental health telehealth is another one. Connecting employees with an in-network therapist at short notice and without the need to drive long distances removes many of the barriers that prevent workers from getting the help they need. Expect virtual health companies like LiveHealth Online, part of the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield network, to gain more traction as employers refine their focus on mental wellness.
Trend 3: Empowered Financial Wellness
Chances are, your employees worry about money — and it’s an even better bet that those anxieties affect their minds, bodies and job performance. About 8 in 10 employers say financial stress has reduced their workers’ effectiveness. That stress costs businesses half a trillion dollars each year.
So, it shouldn’t be too surprising that financial wellness may become a big theme of benefits packages moving into 2020, and for years after. It could even lead to the creation of company-wide financial wellness programs, much in the same way workplace wellness programs hit the scene several years ago.
Starting a financial wellness program doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem, though. Put some thought into what your employees really need, and then narrow down the resources and services that can help. Think outside the box; a financial wellness program might include:
Financial planning services
Student loan and medical debt recovery
Voluntary health benefits, such as supplemental health insurance
Building Benefits Where They Matter
Your workforce is changing. As workers’ individual situations shift, and their needs along with it, staying on top of retention and recruiting will likely mean that employers need to rethink how they approach their benefits to consider the realities of medical costs and the desires of a new generation of employees.
Of course, it may not be possible to implement every new trend under the sun — nor should you. But focusing on one or two new efforts that matter most to employees (and your bottom line) will serve you well moving into 2020.
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