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Top 5 Employee-Benefits Trends for 2017

Dropping to 4.6% in November, the unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2007.  That sends a clear message to employers:  they need innovative programs to attract and retain the best employees, especially when it comes to competitive benefits packages.  The days when paid holidays and uniform insurance plans were enough to satisfy American workers are over.  These days, employers need to listen to their employees and work hard to give them the benefits they want.

What Benefits Do Employees Want in 2017?

For employers who want to know how their employees size up benefits, MetLife’s 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Survey is must reading.  That analysis shows that financial uncertainty is shaping employee preferences with regard to benefits.  Here, based on that study, are 5 top trends in employee benefits for 2017:

  1. Employees will have more input:  the MetLife Study showcases employee preferences in the aggregate, but every workforce is different, and increasingly, employers are talking with their employees to find out what benefits they want, and giving them more choice in which benefits they opt for.  For example, companies with a large percentage of millennial employees might consider offering the option of pet insurance, which is particularly important to those workers. 
  2. Employers will need to communicate more effectively:  employers will need to improve communications to ensure employees fully understand their options.  According to the Study, only one in three employees felt their company benefits were easy to understand.  To close the communications gap, 72% of employees prefer face-to-face communications with a company representative.  Employers will need to find new and better ways to help employees make choices that fit their needs.
  3. Employees want more help with their personal finances:  a slow economic recovery has created substantial financial stress for employees.  For example, 58% of survey respondents are worried they won’t have enough money to pay their bills if someone in the household loses a job, and 55% are concerned about the status of their retirement savings.  Increasingly, employers will offer financial wellness plans to address these growing concerns.  In a recent ADP survey, for example, 92% of employers indicated an interest in providing employees with information about retirement planning.
  4. Concerns about the security of personal data are growing:  if assuring employees that their personal data is secure isn’t something employers consider a benefit, they should take a look at a recent survey from HR software solutions.  Computer hacking has driven the news cycle for the past year, increasing employee concerns about the safety of the personal data they share with employers.  According to the HR report, more than one is four employees expressed concerns about employers storing their personal banking details, and one in five said the same about their contact information.  Employers will need to find ways to increase data security and communicate those steps with their employees.
  5. More employees want help with legal problems:  while the number of criminal cases has remained relatively stable since 1970, civil litigation has increased dramatically.  As a result, an increasing number of employees find themselves trying to navigate a wide spectrum of legal issues without the resources to hire a competent attorney, and an increasing number of employers are closing the gap by offering legal services as part of a voluntary benefits package.  Generally, employees pay about $20 a month for a host of legal services, from real estate transactions to family law to document preparation.

Conclusion

Being able to attract and retain top employees in 2017 means more than offering competitive salaries.  To stay ahead of the competition, employers will need to listen to their employees’ concerns and offer robust and innovative benefits packages that respond to those concerns and meet their individual needs.