For many employers and their benefit decision-makers, the focus in 2022 was to minimize employee disruption and control costs wherever possible.
The challenging economic environment and rising inflation have led many organizations to consider all options that can potentially reduce their healthcare and benefits spending. However, due to the tight labor market, many organizations have decided to continue with the status quo and absorb their renewals. They decide to do this rather than make changes that may involve perceived short-term pain (disruption) for their employees to achieve long-term gain (lowering the medical expense trend).
That being said, many employers are becoming more educated and comfortable with new healthcare plan offerings, funding arrangements, and creative solutions that can no longer be ignored.
Leading edge employers who have decided to take control of their healthcare plan and overall benefits offering have begun to make drastic changes that not only benefit their bottom line, but the health, financial wellbeing, and emotional wellbeing of their employees.
These choices directly impact the organization’s overall culture.
Attracting and retaining talent, while managing healthcare and benefits costs, is a larger priority now than ever before. Leading employers are looking to strike a balance between managing costs, enhancing benefits, and delivering a great employee experience for employees, from new hire orientation to retirement.
Here’s what innovative employers will focus on in 2023
Here are five of the most innovative, affordable, and impactful strategies that forward-thinking organizations are introducing to help differentiate their benefits programs:
- Enhance benefits communication – Forward-thinking organizations know that communicating and educating employees on benefits one time a year is not sufficient. Annual enrollment is the Super Bowl of benefits communication, and that is not likely to change. However, innovative employers will provide consistent and comprehensive benefits education to new hires. Plus, they’ll invest in continual education throughout the year–particularly during key life events for an employee or their family. This will positively impact employee retention and reduce turnover as employees know what is available to them with proactive benefits communication.
- Consider alternative healthcare plans & funding – Level-funded plans, captives, and self-funded medical strategies are now available down market for even smaller employers to consider. Organizations of all sizes can now evaluate and weigh the pros and cons of these alternative funding options compared to the more traditional fully insured funding method. In many instances, these alternative funding options can lead to long-term savings.
- Leverage data more effectively – Employers and their benefit decision-makers are becoming smarter. Innovative employers can follow suit by tracking utilization and outcomes wherever possible. They can then leverage that data at renewal time when making key decisions around which benefits to continue offering, which new benefits to introduce, and which benefits offerings are no longer being valued that should be discontinued.
- Add new point solutions & voluntary benefits – There are now over 1,000 different types of benefits and point solutions that can be offered by employers. Due to this fact, employers need a partner who understands their business, their challenges, their goals, and can identify the point solutions and overall benefits offerings that are most appropriate for the organization and their employees. Better yet, they will be able to help advise when adding more point solutions isn’t the right answer and when employers can look to fewer solutions to do more for their employees. According to Eastbridge Consulting Group, group voluntary benefits growth in 2021 was over 13%, as the need for supplemental benefits continues to increase.
- Focus on benefits utilization & navigation – Decision support, benefits utilization, and care navigation are all hot topics right now. It is the combination of technology and human-to-human support that is advancing the ball in this category. Most benefits enrollments are occurring on a technology platform, and new decision support tools are helping employees understand the benefits that are most appropriate for them based on their age, demographics, family, and even psychographic segmentation. Additionally, support at the time of benefits utilization is a growing trend as employees can access resources that will help them identify the quality of the provider and cost of the care they need. Plus, many can now access personalized care coordinators who can help employees navigate the complex healthcare system.
Are you ready to lead the change?
As we head into the new year, these are five trends where we anticipate innovative employers to take the lead. While some of these may already be on your radar, you might consider speaking with your employee benefits consultant about what options might help you better reach your goals. Additionally, if you work directly with vendors, consider what a holistic and diverse solution can do to supplement your benefits and positively impact employee health and culture.
About the author:
Nick Bellanca is a VP, Employee Health & Benefits for Marsh McLennan Agency and he is focused on helping employers align their benefits offering with their vision, mission, and culture. Nick has over 17 years of employee benefits experience, working for large Fortune 500 organizations and startups during that timeframe. Based in Columbus, Ohio, Nick works with progressive employers across the country. Contact Nick Bellanca with Marsh McLennan Agency at [email protected] to learn how to elevate your benefits package or introduce any of these strategies into your current program.