2016 FORECAST: TRENDS IN VOLUNTARY BENEFITS

Benefits are a key tool in your recruitment and retention strategies and voluntary benefits are an important part of those strategies. Voluntary benefits have become immensely popular because employees can choose products that complement their company-sponsored core benefits and round-out a benefit portfolio that suits their individual needs. Even though employees are paying all or most of the premium, the ability to choose benefits they want make them a real favorite in the employee benefits package.

Here are predictions for voluntary benefit trends in 2016 from Elizabeth Halkos, Purchasing Power’s Chief Revenue Officer.

  1. Customize, customize, customize. Just as the consumer product market studies consumer buying patterns, the non-insurance voluntary benefits industry will look closer at how employees buy benefits. Going beyond the usual demographics of age, sex, income and education levels, now both carriers and employers will look at factors such as lifestyle, housing patterns, and more.
  2. More focus on curing the financial flu. Many employees face difficult financial decisions every month and it’s getting tougher to stretch the budget. A more holistic approach to wellness arises with financial wellness moving to the forefront. Financial education, financial counseling, employee purchase programs and even loans will all be in the mix.
  3. Wearables driving wellness programs. More companies will integrate wearable devices into their wellness programs. Wearables are creating an employee engagement factor that is the shot in the arm that many corporate wellness programs needed.
  4. Big Data guiding benefit offerings strategies. Some employers already are using data analysis to enhance voluntary benefits beyond a one-size-fits-all approach so that the organization has an advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Analytics also is being used to help companies discover how all of their employees want to engage in the process of first learning about, and then enrolling in, both insurance and non-traditional voluntary products and services.
  5. Benefit portals and enrollment platforms increasing employee engagement. In addition to simplifying administration for employers, benefit portals and enrollment platforms improve access for employees. With more voluntary benefits being offered to satisfy the needs of a diverse employee population and offset coverage gaps, the use of technology-enabled benefits education and decision support tools will increase dramatically to help employees navigate as well as understand benefits offerings.
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