When I first started covering the employee benefits world six years ago, I never expected to become so fully immersed and engrossed in the subject matter (sorry to disillusion any of you who thought I always knew just how cool the benefits biz is).
But between everything from the Affordable Care Act and overtime rules to the rise of nontraditional benefits as a way to attract and retain talent, I soon realized how vital it all is. And, not to mention, how interesting and continually changing it is, too.
Benefits are anything but static — and the Society for Human Resource Management backs that up in its new data. In its survey, which looks at how benefits have transformed over the last 20 years, we learn that benefits change just as much as our hairstyles and fashion choices (though I’ve been known to still rock a scrunchie or two). While many core benefits, including health insurance and retirement, haven’t majorly changed over the last two decades, more unconventional perks have.
“In 1996, we saw benefits used [as] more of a one-size fits-all strategy compared to today’s more demographically targeted benefit offerings,” Evren Esen, SHRM’s director of survey programs, told EBN. “When we think about some benefits, like Lasik or gender reassignment surgery, it’s a high-cost benefit, but offered as a way to appeal to select employees an employer has determined would be attracted to these benefits.”
For example, wellness programs have exploded, and telecommuting (a perk that I myself partake in) — a small consideration back in 1996, with 20% of employers offering it — is perhaps the benefit with the most dramatic rise, with 60% of employers now offering it. Meanwhile, new offerings like student loan repayment programs, genetic testing and egg freezing have taken the spotlight, too.
It’s all the name of the new benefits game. And who knows where the next year will take us, let alone the next 20. But you can count on EBN to share with you the latest trends, breaking news and analysis you’ve come to rely on.
Though continuing trends and ongoing regulatory turmoil have provided consistent excitement in my job, my favorite part of covering the benefits world has always been the people. I see the value in your jobs and the value you provide for employees. And I, too, hope you see the value in what we provide to help you do your jobs better.
But, as with everything in life, there is always room for growth. I value EBN’s relationship with our readers, and I look forward to hearing your views about the industry, as well as your thoughts on what kinds of news and analysis you are looking for. (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I hope to meet and speak to many of you in the coming months. I am excited to begin this journey in my new role as EBN’s editor-in-chief — and I want you along with me for the ride.
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