When it comes to offering an employee benefit plan, the new norm is to offer more, and the standard keeps inching higher. It’s possible the Affordable Care Act had an impact on the number of businesses offering health benefits, but the 2017 trends extend well beyond group health plans, and employees certainly expect more. A recent study from the Employee Benefits Research Institute shows workers continue to rank employment-based health insurance as their most important benefit. Here’s a look at some of the current trends in employee benefit plans:
Health, vision and dental benefits for the whole family
Now, more than ever before, employees are looking for health, vision and dental insurance options that include dependent coverage. Workers want quality plans that allow them to visit the doctors they choose with low out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles. Many insurance companies now offer technology platforms that include visiting a doctor electronically/telephonically as part of their group insurance plan to offer greater convenience and less expense.
Health savings and flexible spending accounts
One way to offer employees a more flexible benefits program is to offer health savings and flexible spending accounts. Pre-tax contributions help pay for out-of-pocket healthcare costs and make it easy for employees to set aside money for things they already pay for like doctor’s visits and prescriptions. There are also flexible spending accounts that can be set up to pay for dependent care.
A quality retirement savings plan is a way to help employees plan for the future, and in some cases, it doesn’t cost you a dime. You can choose to match employee contributions or just establish a pre-tax program for them to utilize.
Financial planning and legal services
Financial planning helps employees set goals and map out a financial future. Educating employees about the importance of planning for retirement and investing are important parts of solid benefits programs. Legal services typically cover life events like creating a will, buying or selling a house, or filing for divorce.
Disability coverage and life insurance
Disability insurance provides income replacement to enable sick or injured employees to pay bills, including mortgages and college expenses, and maintain a standard of living. Most employers offer group term life insurance, although additional types can be offered. Term life insurance is designed to provide financial resources to an employee’s family in the event of his or her premature death and is only in effect for a certain period (5, 10, 15 years, etc.).
Paid time off to include holidays
Offering paid time off helps your staff balance the demands of their personal and professional lives. Consider what other local employers offer and decide if you want to offer a benefit that is about the same or better than that level. According to the U.S. Department of Labor:
- Workers with one year of experience average 11 days of paid vacation.
- Employees with five years of experience average 15 days of vacation.
- Workers with 10 and 20 years of tenure average 17 and 20 days respectively.
Recent trends show employers are moving to paid time off banks that bundle all forms of paid time off together (sick, personal and vacation). This allows the employees more freedom to choose how they want to use their time. However, it might not work for all employers due to state and local laws governing sick leave. Many companies also observe several holidays each year and pay employees when the office is closed in observance of those holidays (although that’s not legally required for non-exempt employees).
One of the more popular employee preferences is flextime, allowing employees to work varying hours. This can ease the burdens of commuting, family schedules, and personal needs. Your ability to offer flextime to your employees depends on your industry and your client’s needs.
Wellness programs are typically offered as part of a group health plan at no additional cost. By supporting employees’ efforts to achieve personal health goals both physically and mentally, wellness programs benefit both the employee, and you, the employer, and they help keep healthcare costs down. These programs can be very effective in promoting overall health through things like health screenings, education, smoking cessation, chronic disease management, and weight loss. Wellness programs can also boost employee morale.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
EAPs are designed to help employees find comfort or relief from personal issues that could affect his or her ability to perform at work. EAPs offer counseling on issues like stress management, alcohol, drug abuse and parenting.
A tuition-reimbursement program shows your employees you’re willing to invest in their future. You may limit the field of study to a development area within your organization, and require the employee remain with your organization for a period such as a year or two upon program completion or repay the reimbursement amount. This benefit is regulated by the IRS and allows the employee to receive up to a certain dollar amount in reimbursement from you without paying taxes on the reimbursed amount.
Employee perks and discount programs
For no cost, you can provide entertainment discounts and special consumer offers to your employees through various partners. An employee perks program can include things like theme park tickets, sporting events, theater tickets, movies, hotels, discounted computers and more.
Call 1-800-393-0815 and select option 8 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how FrankCrum makes offering an employee benefit plan easy.