The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic shined a spot­light on the impor­tance of employ­er-pro­vid­ed health ben­e­fits. Not only have employ­ees been request­ing an expan­sion of their ben­e­fits for months, but report after report has indi­cat­ed that com­pre­hen­sive plans that also cov­er men­tal health or include paid parental leave, for exam­ple, are the key to get­ting peo­ple back to work. But are employ­ers listening?

The 2021 Employ­ee Ben­e­fits Trends Study from MetLife start­ed col­lect­ing data on what com­pa­nies planned to do about ben­e­fits going for­ward. It found that 80% of the sur­veyed employ­ers agreed that ben­e­fits play a huge role in employ­ee resilience and well-being.

Most com­pa­nies have seen the writ­ing on the wall and they’re ready to do what’s need­ed to get work­ers back and ensure they stay hap­py, healthy, and productive.

What Techniques Are Companies Implementing?

For some com­pa­nies, com­mu­ni­ca­tions have grown mud­dled by the remote envi­ron­ment. Oth­ers may have rec­og­nized they weren’t explain­ing ben­e­fits enough pre-COVID and decid­ed it was time to make a change.

Accord­ing to the study, 80% of the employ­ers sur­veyed are increas­ing their ben­e­fits com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Most Amer­i­cans select the wrong type of insur­ance for their indi­vid­ual needs, which results in more bills and a prof­it loss for their employer.

One study cit­ed by CNBC found that only 4% of Amer­i­cans could cor­rect­ly iden­ti­fy the terms deductible, co-pay, coin­sur­ance, and out-of-pock­et max­i­mum. Increas­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tions about ben­e­fits will help employ­ees bet­ter under­stand what’s avail­able and how to pick the right plan for them. It should decrease out-of-pock­et costs and elim­i­nate the stress of prov­ing to the insur­ance com­pa­ny that cer­tain treat­ments are needed.

It’s also impor­tant to con­sid­er that employ­ees are 177% more like­ly to be “holis­ti­cal­ly well” when they receive clear com­mu­ni­ca­tions on a reg­u­lar basis.

Hav­ing a strong com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­e­gy is more impor­tant than ever as employ­ers are deal­ing with more remote and hybrid employ­ees. The nature of these work modes requires clear expec­ta­tions and reg­u­lar follow-up.

Besides edu­cat­ing employ­ees on the plans avail­able, 75% of com­pa­nies also said they intend­ed to offer more cus­tomiza­tion of ben­e­fits. Not every­one needs to be cov­ered for the same things. There’s no rea­son to force every­one to get a “one-size-fits-all” plan.

How Employers Feel About Health Benefits Expansion

Health insur­ance isn’t cheap and most com­pa­nies would rather focus on cut­ting costs than adding new ben­e­fits. But there are cre­ative ways to help employees.

For instance, 74% of employ­ers are offer­ing more added-val­ue ser­vices. These may include telemed­i­cine, med­ical bill-sav­ing assis­tance, employ­ment assis­tance pro­grams, and even iden­ti­ty theft pro­tec­tion. Some offer perk ben­e­fits like com­muter spend­ing accounts, cafe­te­ria food plans, or employ­ee dis­counts at local businesses.

Over­all, employ­ers are strong­ly con­sid­er­ing more vol­un­tary ben­e­fits for employ­ees. Accord­ing to the MetLife study, 66% of employ­ers are expand­ing the range of “employ­ee paid” or vol­un­tary benefits.

These vol­un­tary ben­e­fits aug­ment what cov­er­age is cur­rent­ly avail­able, but they also sup­port the finan­cial well-being of employ­ees, cut com­pa­ny insur­ance costs, and bet­ter retain cur­rent employees.

At this moment in time, the big con­cern among employ­ers is reten­tion. Research indi­cates that 78% of employ­ees will decide to stay with a com­pa­ny because of its ben­e­fits program.

Shifting Attitudes Toward Health Insurance

Ben­e­fits have always been a key part of com­pet­i­tive job offers, yet how employ­ers view them is shift­ing. More employ­ers believe they have a respon­si­bil­i­ty for the health of their employ­ees. Accord­ing to the study, they see a direct cor­re­la­tion between employ­ee health and productivity.

The Great Res­ig­na­tion has shown com­pa­nies that a high­er salary isn’t always enough to keep employ­ees on the job. They also need ben­e­fit options to pro­tect their men­tal and phys­i­cal well-being.

By Mcken­zie Cassidy

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network