Key Trends for Employee Benefit Packages in 2021
In 2021 and beyond, employee benefits packages will still resemble what they looked like before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are fundamental shifts that change the way companies will approach benefits.
The first change is where their employees will work, whether in an office, remotely, or in a hybrid model.
The second change involves how employers decide which employee benefits to offer. Companies around the world have learned lessons about the factors that cause employee stress. As a result, innovative employers are now ramping up efforts to provide benefits that help employees.
The shift in employee benefits plans will set the tone for the future. Here is a look at three key trends in employee benefits packages in 2021.
Company-sponsored financial wellness programs are one of the biggest trends in employee benefits. Traditionally, the focus has been on retirement plans. Now, financial health is a critical topic addressed through various programs in an employee benefits plan.
Financial wellness programs have become a mainstay in employee benefits packages. Depending on employee needs, many programs include educational classes on relevant topics like savings, managing credit, paying off debt, investing, and more. Many companies also provide financial coaching and access to wealth management advisors who offer customized advice.
Businesses are also introducing programs that provide on-demand pay for employees. On-demand pay gives employees access to wages they’ve already earned without requiring them to wait for a paycheck. For a small fee, employees can request funds as soon as they’ve earned them. On-demand pay can help employees pay their bills or deal with emergencies.
With some benefit plans, employees also have access to emergency funds. Those programs are sometimes offered through retirement plan providers or payroll vendors. Rather than tap a 401(k) for a loan, employees can establish an emergency savings fund to save money and earn interest while maintaining easy access to the funds if needed.
Student loan repayment programs have also become a popular employee benefit in recent years, as Americans owe more than $1.71 trillion in loans. The average student loan debt is now more than $29,000, and many companies have started repayment programs to help employees.
Mental Health and Wellness
Companies are paying more attention to their employees’ mental health and wellness needs than ever before, a positive change that is increasingly reflected in employee benefits packages.
The National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions says 53% of the 256 companies it surveyed provided special emotional and mental health aid due to the pandemic.
Businesses are offering new and traditional forms of mental health counseling. Online therapy has quickly become one of the most popular supportive benefits. Since people have worked from home in the past year, companies have leveraged the power of digital connection and arranged for workers to access therapists online.
Insurance coverage for mental health is also growing. Employees can utilize Employer Assistance Programs, and with the popularity of apps for mindfulness, breathing, and other stress-reducing methods, employers are encouraging employees to take advantage of the available resources.
While wellness programs have been a staple of employee benefits programs for years, they are now getting even more attention. Other popular offerings include yoga and guided meditation, and companies are changing their existing programs to fit employee needs.
Child and Elder Care
As offices reopen, more focus is being placed on family assistance. With this in mind, more companies are offering childcare benefits in their employee benefits packages.
Depending on the company, workers may be receiving benefits like backup childcare. Some enterprising companies have decided to build childcare facilities on their property.
Companies are also helping with funding available to secure care for aging parents and elderly family members. Educational benefits are growing, such as reimbursements for children to receive tutoring, educational services, and test preparation. For students getting ready for college, some companies are providing aid for college prep services.
Better Employee Benefits Packages
As companies learn from the pandemic and shift to new work models, helping employees navigate life’s challenges will continue to be a central theme for benefits packages. In 2021, businesses have already started addressing financial and mental health needs while assisting with childcare. The result should be more robust employee benefits packages now and in the future.