Just before the COVID-19 pandemic broke, unemployment was at a 50-year low. Employee benefits packages were becoming more vital than ever for attracting and retaining talent.
Now we’re in crisis mode. Thousands of businesses across the U.S. have temporarily closed and tens of thousands of people are either working from home – or newly unemployed. And your benefits packages are being called on to evolve quickly to respond.
The federal government is working on a stimulus package to help ease the financial strain on families. On March 18, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes provisions for health plans to cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing with no member cost-sharing. Pharmacy benefits have become more flexible and there are new paid leave benefits for those impacted by COVID-19. You can find out how COVID-19 quarantine is defined under New York law and how the COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave works here, and download a Claim Form here.
With more people quarantined at home, telemedicine options are being expanded. For small group health plans (less than 100 employees), here’s a list of carriers with access to each one’s telemedicine benefits:
When business finally returns to normal, the competition for top talent will be as stiff as ever.
Today’s employees are also demanding more from their benefits. They want benefits that support them holistically, address their individual needs, and help them balance an increasingly complex work-life mix.
Here are seven key trends to think about when designing your benefits packages:
- Personalization. The era of one-size-fits all benefits is over. Today’s diverse, multigenerational workforce requires a broad array of personalized benefit options that include healthcare, financial, and lifestyle categories.
- Greater emphasis on financial wellness. According to MetLife's 17th Annual US Employee Benefit Trends Study 2019, 52 percent of employees expected to postpone their retirement due to their financial situation. That’s up from 32 percent in 2015. That’s why financial wellness benefits are in demand, including college tuition reimbursement, student loan repayment, retirement planning, and financial education.
- Lifestyle benefits. Employees want more flexible schedules, remote work options, and sick leave. They want onsite childcare and fitness centers. And they want family planning benefits including increased maternity and paternity leave options.
- Caregiver benefits. More than 1 in 6 Americans assists with the care of an elderly or disabled family member according to The Family Caregiver Alliance. Seventy percent of them suffer work-related difficulties because of their dual roles. In response, more employers are offering eldercare and caregiver benefits, including paid time off and support for transitioning back to work.
- Focus on mental health and well-being. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), almost a quarter of U.S. workers have been diagnosed with depression. Forty percent of them are out of work an average of 10 days every year due to it. Employers are responding by offering improved mental health and well-being benefits, onsite counselors, reduced medication co-pays, and increased telemedicine options.
- More socially diverse benefits. There’s a growing awareness of LGBT rights in the workplace, and organizations are adjusting their benefits programs and diversity policies to be more inclusive of LGBT employees and their families. For example, employers are increasingly offering transgender-inclusive benefits such as coverage of sex-reassignment surgery and cosmetic procedures such as electrolysis or mastectomies.
- Improved communication. A report by the Employee Benefit Institute found that more than 1/3 of employees surveyed received no education on their benefits. It’s crucial to have a clear strategy, a targeted message, a helpful website, and year-round communication through channels that are convenient for them.
BNC Insurance is here to support your employee benefit programs. We’ve created a resource page for your reference here: COVID-19 resources. Let us know how we can help.