2017 Forecast: Six Trends in Non-Traditional Voluntary Benefits

Many companies today are recognizing the important role that non-traditional voluntary benefits can play in distinguishing their employee benefits package. What’s ahead in 2017 for non-traditional voluntary benefits? 

Purchasing Power’s Chief Revenue Officer Elizabeth Halkos offers six predictions on next year’s trends: 

  1. Variety shines.
    A selection of non-traditional voluntary options is a must-have for companies who want a competitive benefits package. Non-traditional voluntary benefits – including services such as identity theft/cyber security insurance, financial counseling services, tuition assistance and elder care – have risen in popularity in recent years because they allow the employee to choose benefits that meet their changing needs and lifestyles. Since employees pay the entire cost of non-traditional voluntary benefits, there’s no reason for employers not to offer a variety. And look for more options to emerge, including the more innovative ones like egg harvesting that emerged a few years ago.
  2. Customization 2.0 is here.
    There’s more to customizing benefits than employee age alone. While looking at the characteristics of the generations is valuable, over-generalizing the generations doesn’t foster customization because it fails to take into consideration differences in lifestyles, financial habits and more. Organizations that take customization of benefits to heart and embrace further segmentation of the generations will be able to structure their benefits in a way that will attract, retain and engage the talent they need for the future. 2017 will see employers taking customization to another level by segmenting the generations.
  3. It’s going digital.
    Now that millennials dominate the workforce, they are driving the digitalization of benefits education and benefits communication. In 2017, look for even more use of mobile, video, social media, benefit portals and interactive tools for benefits education and communication. Optimizing benefits information and mobility to multiple screens will generate higher engagement and satisfaction with today’s employee base.
  4. Financial flu gets treatment.
    In the past few years, employers have come to realize that financial health is just as important as physical health. Study after study confirms that employees who are financially stressed are distracted by their finances at work and are less productive. Companies are increasing their financial wellness offerings by adding non-traditional benefits that help employees address their financial questions and overall understanding. 2017 will see more companies adopt these types of benefits, such as financial education and counseling services, employee purchase programs, employee discount programs and short-term loans.
  5. Wellness technology dominates.
    Wearables and other wellness technology items are re-invigorating the popularity of wellness   programs. With data emerging in 2016 revealing improved wellness ROI from fitness tracking devices, even more employers will promote their use. In the last few years companies began either subsidizing or allowing wearables to be obtained through payroll deduction and this will escalate with costs savings and positive health impact being shown.
  6. Online education scores.
    Online education benefits will come to the forefront in 2017 both as a method to reduce student debt and bolster career development. Empowering employees with educational benefits can be a valuable addition to the benefits package, especially when it is offered as a voluntary benefit at no cost to their company. Non-traditional voluntary benefits that provide options for employees or their children to access online college courses are an alternative to mounting student debt. Likewise career development opportunities available to workers including professional certifications and career diplomas can be available through a non-traditional voluntary benefit. Look for more use of this type of benefit in 2017.
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