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The post-pandemic workforce has changed dramatically

Is your benefits package keeping pace?

January 5, 2023
Rachel Alfred
Timer  Read Time: 6 minutes

The benefit needs of employees and the actions employers are taking to meet those needs have changed significantly over the past few years. According to a recent article published by SHRM, the pandemic, a tight labor market, remote work, unprecedented inflation, uncertainty about the future, and a renewed focus on employees’ emotional and financial well-being have all impacted the benefits packages employers are offering and in turn, what prospective employees are seeking.

To attract and retain employees, businesses have shifted their attention to what new talent and tenured staff value most in their benefits package. Instead of looking forward to returning to business-as-usual conditions, companies and their employees are now navigating a climate of ‘pandemic fears’ and economic uncertainty, according to HR.com. As a result, “employers are being called upon to work even smarter to stay ahead of evolving employee expectations.” To successfully recruit and retain talent, benefits packages during open enrollment need to evolve as well.

So how does an organization determine what benefits to offer and how to best use budget dollars in this new normal? It varies, but these are some key considerations for employers:
• Define employees’ needs and wants
• Focus should be directed on affordable options that support the changing needs of a diverse workforce
• Prioritize employee financial security
• Utilize the latest technology to enhance the enrollment experience and leverage data-driven insights.

Understanding what employees want

The better an employer understands its people, the better chance they have at creating meaningful benefits programs for them. According to the WTW 2022 Benefits Attitude Survey, the ability to provide benefit choices involves staying in tune with the constantly changing requirements of employees and creating easily accessible, sought-after, and time-tested options that are affordable and cost-effective. “In assessing their benefits, workers consider choice, flexibility, cost, and value, and whether their benefits provide a sense of security.” On the other hand, “employers may underestimate the role of choice in the benefits experience. When it comes to improving benefits, increased choice and flexibility — the top priority for employees — is priority number five for employers.”

More is more when it comes to benefit options

The WTW Survey continues to say employees having the ability to choose benefits best suited to their individual needs is not new. What is new are the kinds of options that are made available to successfully meet these employee needs. It’s the company’s job to make space for their workforce to vocalize expectations, stay attuned to issues of inequality, remain as flexible as possible and navigate the impacts of inflation and a shifting economy. It’s the modern way.

As a result of the pandemic, employers are taking action by expanding their benefits offerings. Additionally, benefit vendors with creative offerings, ideally suited to a post-pandemic work environment, have risen up to meet the moment.

When evaluating benefit programs, decision-makers can now ask questions like “How can we emulate our culture and give our people peace of mind and the ability to pursue personal passions?” Then, they can pick groundbreaking new solutions aligned with those goals. Seefeldt wrote, “Designing benefits to include the ‘little things’ allows employees to enjoy their work environment and have a meaningful appreciation for their benefits.”

Benefits budgets bring the power of choice to the next level

One method some employers are using to expand their options for employees is the use of stipends. Getting money to help spruce up a home office is a great way to start a new job. With 41% of employees now working fully remote or hybrid, providing funds to help “employees make their home office as comfortable and functional as possible, has become an effective recruiting perk for employers looking to achieve maximum productivity from their virtual teams,” per WTW and Forbes Human Resource Counsel.

Verizon is taking the use of stipends one step further. CHRO of Verizon, Sam Hammock, reports that “Verizon has made selective and targeted changes to employee compensation, but it has also adopted a benefits strategy that emphasizes maximizing choice. With thousands of employees in every demographic group, they are building a range of benefits to serve employees where they are in life. To that end, Verizon now offers a stipend employees can use to purchase personalized benefits that meet their unique needs, such as pet insurance, elder care assistance, yoga classes, telehealth, and other benefits.” When it comes to both tangible and intangible benefits, like the freedom to work anywhere, “the power of giving employees the choice is key; most of them just want to be trusted to make these important choices themselves.”

Financial wellness benefits are a really important choice

In these uncertain economic times, a new Morgan Stanley at Work Study reveals employees are increasingly concerned about financial benefits – and HR Leaders are taking note.

As the cost of goods and services continues to take a bigger bite out of household budgets, money for many is tight. Many employees are faced with significant and often unexpected short-term financial challenges, making it impossible to maintain a rainy day fund or save for retirement. These sobering stats from New Reality Check demonstrate that almost two-thirds of U.S. consumers are living paycheck to paycheck as of January 2022. Even more worrisome is nearly half of Americans earning $100,000 a year are now in the same boat. Brin Chartier, Director of Marketing with LearnLux in Austin, Texas, says “Much of an employee’s financial life is tied to the benefits provided by their employer.” Personalized programs and access to financial wellness benefits, designed to protect employees from these challenges – in all stages of their careers – are essential to their financial well-being, throughout each annual enrollment period and beyond.

Technology makes choices easier to make and manage

PlanSource, through its advanced AI-powered decision engine, DecisionIQ, provides personalized guidance, making it easy for employees to intelligently navigate a wide variety of benefits choices. WTW puts forward that employee confidence in important decisions is dependent upon access to engaging and practical communication, education, and support from their employers. “By prioritizing choice and decision support, employers can better deliver a personalized experience that meets employees where they are and enhances employees’ appreciation and perceived value of their benefits.” According to MetLife, any size business “now has the resources and opportunities at their fingertips to offer a great package and experience, helping them attract and retain talent — and support their physical and financial wellbeing in any economic climate.”

Armadillo is a groundbreaking choice

PlanSource, in partnership with Armadillo Home Solutions, makes for an incredibly relevant and cost-effective way to improve employee choice and value in your benefits program.

Armadillo is an innovative benefit, born out of the pandemic. It is a subscription-based protection plan for when major systems and appliances break down in employees’ homes. From kitchen and laundry appliances to heating/cooling, plumbing, and electric, Armadillo connects homeowners with only the most qualified and reputable service technicians, covers the costs of these repairs and replacements, and ensures it’s done swiftly. Think of it like healthcare for your home.

Armadillo covers all the bases and checks all the boxes. It is affordable and budget-friendly, provides financial security for homeowners, and supports flexible work environments. PlanSource has made this benefit easily accessible to its clients and their employees through its Partner Marketplace. Please contact your dedicated PlanSource representative for more information.

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