How financial wellness benefits can help with your health plan expenses
How can employers provide the benefits that attract new employees while retaining the talent already on the payroll?
There's been a lot written recently about how we should think about the waves of resignations and retirements sweeping across corporate America. Nicknames such as "The Great Resignation" or "The Big Quit" give a poetic gravitas to this phenomenon but can also give the impression that employers and their HR officers can simply wait for the moment to pass.
That could happen, but we may also be witnessing a permanent shift in what employees expect from their jobs, with certain benefits now cast in a more favorable light post-pandemic. Employers face their own set of challenges as they navigate this new normal, scrambling to provide the benefits that attract new employees while retaining the talent already on the payroll. Thinking of the total benefits package holistically allows businesses to spot opportunities where one set of perks can complement another, such as the case of health and financial wellness benefits.
Health benefits are more important than ever
Providing employees health and wellness plans has played a critical role in an employer's benefits package since the 1950s, and a worldwide pandemic has only exacerbated the need for robust, comprehensive health care coverage. Not surprisingly, this added urgency comes at precisely the same time that health plan premiums look likely to dramatically rise. In fact, a survey conducted by Mercer found that employers expect health plans in 2022 to cost an average of 4.7% more than they did in 2021. A similar survey by Willis Towers Watson reported an expected increase of 5.2% in health and pharmacy benefits by employers.
Should these predictions come true, employers will face a series of disheartening choices. They could eat the increased costs to shield participants from higher premiums. They could also introduce new stipulations to their health plans, (such as narrowing provider networks, ) to reduce overall costs. Or they could increase the amount of the health plan cost paid by the participant—a move that in today's environment could provoke an exodus of talent.
Employers forced to change their health plans in a way that disadvantages the participant—either from a cost or benefits perspective—need to find a creative way to sweeten their overall employee value proposition. One solution lies with a trend almost as influential as the pandemic—America's increasingly gloomy view of the economy.
Financial empowerment: What employees want and need
A significant portion of the country sees economic storm clouds on the horizon. An AP/NORC poll released in November found that 65% of the country feels the economy is in poor condition, and 47% of Americans feel it will only get worse. Simply put, people feel like they're not making enough money to feel secure in their financial futures.
That's where employers have an opportunity to step up and help their workers gain confidence in their ability to meet the future. Financial wellness benefits can run the gamut from educational resources, such as providing employees financial coaching, to heftier aid such as student debt relief and employee stock purchase plans.
Including robust financial wellness benefits not only helps take the sting out of any changes employers may make to health plans, but also helps build a better workforce. The current moment may contain a great deal of uncertainty for employers, but one truth remains constant—give employees what they need, and they'll reward you for it.
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