Faced with record-low unemployment, more employers are investing in employee benefits
Survey found that forward-thinking employers are taking a more holistic view of employee wellbeing and developing strategies that both engage and appeal to their team.
Attracting and retaining talent remains the number one operational priority of 60 percent of employers according to the forthcoming 2018 Gallagher Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey. That figure has increased two percentage points from 2017 and is in sharp contrast to the 37 percent of employers who ranked controlling benefit costs as the top priority, a figure that declined six percentage points from 2017. And nearly half (45 percent) of employers chose not to increase employee cost sharing of healthcare benefits.
“While keeping a lid on costs is always important, we are seeing a clear shift in the market as employers are having to compete more aggressively for talent in the face of the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years,” said William F. Ziebell, President, Gallagher Employee Benefits Consulting and Brokerage.
The survey found forward-thinking employers are taking a more holistic view of employee wellbeing and developing strategies that both engage and appeal to their team. For example, more than half of employers (55 percent) now provide a telemedicine component, allowing employees to virtually connect with clinicians. That is an increase of more than 100 percent from 2016 when just 24 percent of employers utilized telemedicine.
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The report also found employers are looking for ways to reduce medical expenses by encouraging their employees to live healthy lifestyles. The most popular physical well-being benefits include flu shots, tobacco cessation programs, health risk assessments, and biometric screenings.
Because financial stressors can negatively affect productivity, financial well-being proved to be another area of interest for employers.
Because the tightening labor market has made it easier for top employees to leave their jobs voluntarily, more employers are tweaking existing benefits or adding new offerings. The goal is to provide employees with more choices that will better fit their own lifestyles and needs. Examples include:
Health Benefits Choice: More than one in five employers (22 percent) now offer employees three medical insurance plans, and 13 percent offer four or more options.
Tuition Assistance: Nearly half (46 percent) of employers provide tuition assistance, which is up from 42 percent in 2017. The most common tuition reimbursement amount totaled $5,250 annually per employee.
Life Insurance: Nine of ten (89 percent) employers said they now offer employees life insurance, which is a five percent increase from 2017.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): 70 percent of employers provide access to EAPs, which is an 11 percent jump from 2017.
Given many employee rosters include a multigenerational workforce, it has become increasingly important for employers to offer benefits that appeal to each segment of their workforce. Surprisingly, just 13 percent of employers said they have a comprehensive communication strategy to guide how they collect and share benefits information with employees, and most (74 percent) noted they have a communication strategy for just some of their benefits and well-being offerings.