Diversity in the Workplace

Today’s workplaces are more diverse than ever and this new workforce is shifting the thinking around traditional benefits packages.  The biggest trend and focus of modern plans is toward a more complete and comprehensive “total workplace wellness” employee benefit program. This new thinking encompasses mental, social, physical and financial well being.

Flexibility in Plan Design

There is increasing demand for more flexible benefit choices. Employers and providers are finding new ways to allow plan members to get the most out of their benefits while maintaining affordability. There is a general trend where traditional benefit plans are merged with health spending accounts to deliver flexibility while maintaining cost controls. We are structuring more plans with core benefits to provide security in case of serious illness or injury with the “fringe” benefits being covered by a capped spending account limit. This offers a diverse workforce more choice on where they spend their benefit entitlements and still provides protection for serious or catastrophic issues that can and do happen.

Mental Health

We are all becoming aware of the increasing need for services around mental health issues. Employee assistance programs (EAP) that provide confidential counselling services and disability management programs are the new normal. With significant increases in absenteeism due to mental health issues, EAP programs are vitally important to workplace productivity and have become virtually standard issue on most plans to the ultimate benefit of both employees and employers.

Technology

Technology is also changing the way benefit plans are communicated and delivered to plan members. More and more providers are developing state of the art delivery and support systems to make benefit packages easy to navigate and use. Online benefit portals for plan members and plan administrators have been created to increase access and efficiency of benefit plans. Paper claims and administration forms are disappearing. Day to day access and administration of a benefits plan is easily accessible from a smartphone, tablet or home computer.

Financial Security

Financial well being is also emerging as a trend in employee benefits. Research has shown that stress regarding financial security is having a negative impact on productivity in the workplace. While traditional pension plans are disappearing, there is a need for smaller defined contribution plans (registered retirement and deferred profit sharing plans) to help employees feel comfortable about their financial futures. These are easy to install, very flexible in design and provide great benefit to employees who are becoming more and more concerned with how they will fund their own retirement.

Summary

These are some of today’s trends in employee benefits. Now more than ever employee benefit plans are fluid and evolving to meet the needs of our modern workforce. At Baker & Baker Benefits we continually stay at the forefront of emerging trends and help our clients navigate their way through the benefit world. It is our mission to stay focused on keeping benefit plans up to date with the needs of the plan members and helping employers manage their costs.