Employee demographics and new technology will shape benefit trends in 2020

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One sure thing about today’s workforce and the companies that employ them: constant flux. And heading into the second decade of this century, that state of perpetual motion doesn’t look to be changing any time soon.

Here are four trends to watch in 2020 that will impact how HR leaders leverage their benefits programs into a clear competitive advantage.

Continuing strides in the battle for talent

With unemployment rates consistently low, ,the hunt for talent — and the effort needed to retain quality employees — have become increasingly difficult. This will continue to be a challenge in 2020, particularly when competing for skilled positions. As a result, employers are looking beyond compensation to other types of perks and benefits to attract and keep workers on board.

It’s a sound strategy when you consider that more than half of employees report a willingness to accept a job with a lower salary but a more robust benefits package. Candidates will consider the overall employee experience as important as their paychecks — particularly younger generations. We expect to see more experimentation and pilot programs to gauge effectiveness in recruiting and retention in the near future.

Providing — and monitoring — diverse options

The diversity in today’s workforce, however, makes offering consumer-driven benefits a complex proposition. In addition to having multiple generations in the office, employees have different lifestyles, cultures and income levels. A single 25-year-old associate manager, for instance, will have dramatically different priorities and concerns than a married 55-year-old director with two kids in college and aging parents.

To meet this challenge, HR decision-makers should continue to evaluate and adjust the breadth of options that make it easy for employees to customize their benefits to suit their needs now and into the future. Measuring benefit enrollment rates and regularly obtaining employee feedback will aid in deciding which offerings employees deem most valuable.

Caring for caregivers

LIMRA research estimates 26 million employees in the U.S. serve as primary unpaid caregivers for family members while working full-time. A daunting challenge, especially for those in the sandwich generation — those taking care of both parents and children. With 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, we will see a growing number of Gen Xers and millennials, the largest combined cohort in today’s workforce, take on this caregiver role over the next five to10 years.

Caregiving can be mentally, physically and financially exhausting. While the hope is that employees can handle these duties in addition to their professional careers, there is rarely a way to know if the stress and responsibility are becoming too much for employees. Added to this, long-term care insurance is generally expensive, if not cost-prohibitive.

Companies can providing assistance through voluntary benefits — such as legal insurance — or through services to help caregivers navigate the documentation, lifestyle changes and emotional toll that such efforts entail.

Enabling Technology

Two-thirds of HR leaders agree that the department’s role has undergone, or is going through, a digital change, according to a 2019 report by KPMG. We will continue to see a proliferation of technologies intended to transform the HR function and the future of work. The pace of adoption of technology — such as analytics, digital labor and artificial intelligence — will continue, albeit with caution as traditional HR leaders determine how best to leverage these platforms and tools to improve user experience and productivity.

The bottom line: HR will need to become more agile. Evolving benefit offerings to reflect shifts in employee demographics, new technology and an ever-dynamic employment market will help you get the most out of your workforce.

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