Next week, I’m headed to New York City to moderate a panel discussion on the future of work, hosted by Betterment. Cynthia Loh, head of Betterment for Business, the company’s new 401(k) service for employers, talked to me about some of the benefit trends she’s observed since starting to work with employers and what employee benefits might look like 10 years from now.

Cynthia Loh, head of Betterment for Business
Cynthia Loh, head of Betterment for Business

Based on your work with employers so far, what are some of the workplace/benefits trends you’re seeing?

We are seeing benefits tending to focus more on long-term positive outcomes for employees. While free food and ping pong are nice perks, there seems to be a genuine interest in ensuring financial wellness and healthcare stay top of mind. Boxed, a tech company in NYC, pays for their employees' children full four-year college tuition.

We are also seeing more 401(k)s with auto-enrollment and match or profit-sharing options. And a vast majority of companies we speak with want to offer incentives for their employees to keep them and their families healthy.

What consumer trends do benefit professionals need to be paying attention to and why?

There has been an explosion of technology tools in the last few years – everything is on-demand 24/7 and easily accessible through a mobile app. From the benefits perspective, this means that employees want and expect solutions that mirror this – telemedicine and robo-advice on your investments will become part of a standard benefits package.

What does the future of employee benefits look like five to 10 years from now?

We hosted a great event in San Francisco last week with Nate Randall who led Tesla’s benefit team. When he was at Tesla, they grew from 900 to 13,000 employees – you can imagine with a fast-growing and diverse workforce, one benefits solution that will make all employees happy is fairly challenging. Tesla’s response was to offer a fixed dollar amount in benefits, and an employee can choose what to spend their money on – whether it’s a gym membership or a match to their 401(k). The future of benefits likely looks a lot like this program – an exchange-based solution where employees are getting their highest value needs met.

If you’re in NYC, please join me Wed., Feb. 17 at Betterment’s office for a lively and engaging discussion on the future of work with a panel of distinguished speakers, including Jason Costi, VP of finance at Casper, Patrick Burlingham, SVP of HR at Plated, Jeff Wald, co-founder of WorkMarket, Liz Wilkes, managing partner at Exubrancy and Jordan Gray, managing director at NFP.

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