Latest Benefit Trends for 2020

April 17, 2020

Human resource professionals and union benefit managers take note of some of these latest trends affecting employee benefits as reported by the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM).

According to SHRM, these six benefit trends will dominate in 2020:

  1. Personalized Benefits – More organizations will look to benefit providers for more personalized packages. This need stems from today’s more diverse, multigenerational workforces. Benefit providers who want to succeed will need to offer many options catering to employees whose needs vary based on their age and lifestyles. By offering a menu of options, HR executives and union benefit managers will keep their employees/members satisfied and engaged.
  2. Student-Loan Repayment Support – One area of focus this year will be helping employees pay off their student debt. Among the ways employers are doing this are: tying their 401(k) matching contributions to student loan payments, offering loan payments in exchange for employees’ vested paid time off and vacation time.
  3. Employers Assuming More of the Health Plan Costs – While the trend had been to shift some health plan costs to employees, there now are more employers trying to help out employees by taking over additional healthcare costs. SHRM attributes this trend to employers using this strategy to recruit and retain qualified staff. As part of this trend, more employers are contracting directly with health care providers to control costs. Additionally, they are opting for narrower provider networks to limit the number of in-network doctors and hospitals, and tiered networks to reduce employees’ out-of-pocket expenses.
  4. Employers Funding Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs) – This year, employers now have the option to fund ICHRAs using pretax dollars and their employees can apply them to purchase health coverage on a public exchange. Employers in cities with strong individual markets can especially benefit from this option which is being used as employers start to consider ways to move toward more direct-contribution health plan models.
  5. Expanding Mental Health and Well-Being Benefits – The National Business Group on Health, a non-profit organization representing large employers, found that 48% of large employers surveyed said they would provide anti-stigma training for their managers relating to mental health issues. In related findings, employers are adopting other strategies to address their employees’ mental health needs. These include providing onsite counselors and reducing medication co-pays. Additionally, telehealth benefits are being expanded to include mental health counseling.
  6. Caring for the Caregiver – To support their Baby Boomer workers, who may be caring for an aging or sick parent, as well as other employees assisting with a spouse or child’s care, many employers are now providing care-assistance plans for employees’ relatives and respite care for the caregiver/employee. This was offered by large employers in the past, but now it is becoming more prevalent in middle market companies. Caregiver benefits are typically being added to an organization’s voluntary benefits.

Staying abreast of the latest employee benefit trends helps position companies and unions as progressive, market-responsive organizations that place a strong emphasis on the needs of their employees/members.