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The Evolution of Employee Benefits: Where Employers are Going Wrong


In the ever-changing landscape of the world of work, employee expectations of benefits have evolved but all too often the programs being delivered by most employers fall short and have not evolved at the same pace. This blog post explores the evolution of employee benefits and identifies key areas where many organizations are going wrong.


The Shift in Employee Benefits Value Perception

For most companies, the employee benefits programs are fairly straightforward, often limited to health/dental/vision insurance, retirement plans, and perhaps some form of life insurance. However, the workforce has diversified with 4 generations of workers in most organizations today and in the process, the needs, values, and goals of employees have also broadened well beyond the basics. We now see companies more such as wellness programs, mental health support, flexible working arrangements, and educational assistance, and more. But with this diversification comes complexity and, often, a misalignment between what is offered, how it is offered, and what is genuinely valued by each employee.


Identifying the Misalignments

  1. One-Size-Fits-All Approach: In an attempt to standardize and expand more benefits, companies often adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. This strategy fails to consider the diverse needs of a multi-generational workforce where each group values different benefits. Furthermore, this approach rarely delivers real value for employees because adoption of the programs is low given the employees do not have any decision in choosing the benefits or they have concerns over privacy knowing their employers are aware of the programs they are using. This is particularly problematic when it comes to critical programs in the areas of mental and emotional health.

  2. Wasting Money on Perks and Trendy Benefits: While it's important to stay modern and competitive, there's a tendency to overemphasize trendy perks, like Uber Eats, Movie or concert tickets, office ping-pong tables, and free lunches, which typically have little real value for the majority of employees. Most employees would prefer to have that money allocated to them to spend on the benefits or programs they value., in the end, it is the same spend but now they control how it's deployed, not their employer.

  3. Underutilization and Poor Communication: Many programs are only mentioned or promoted to employees once per year at enrollment and there is a lack of engagement or a platform with the requisite support resources employees need to leverage programs. The result is an underutilization of potentially valuable benefits offerings.

  4. Neglecting Long-Term Value: Short-term perks are not only less attractive, they often overshadow real meaningful benefits that offer long-term value, such as emergency savings accounts, mental and emotional health programs, retirement plans, and professional development opportunities.

Realigning for Value

Employers must take a step back and reassess their approach to employee benefits, consider this:


Ask Your Employees and Give them a Real Choice: Most survey questions lack the necessary context and coupled with limited personal choice employees typically cannot provide real guidance to their employer. Instead of asking "How satisfied are you with your benefits offerings?" try asking this;


If given the choice between the following two program designs which program would feel is most valuable to you? 1

) The existing benefits offerings provided today or

2) A personalized program where you receive a comparable financial allocation from the company and have access to customizable benefits options which you can choose from and spend your budget on, including being able to set aside any unused monies for unexpected life events or emergencies.


You may be very surprised to find that all the efforts to try to make one-size-fits-all and broad benefits work are falling flat and the "old formula" is far less desirable when employees are given real choices and the tools and support to improve every aspect of their physical, mental, emotional, and financial health.


Conclusion

By realigning our benefits strategies to the actual needs and values of our workforce, you can ensure that your benefits programs are not just attractive on paper but are genuinely impactful and valued by every employee. This is how to enrich lives and make employees happy and they deserve to be happy.


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