Employee benefits of tomorrow: what employees are looking for

With unemployment rates at a record low in the United States, 2018 saw one of the most competitive hiring landscapes in decades. Jobs continue to be added to the landscape at a staggering pace, and more and more Americans are leaving their current job for greener pastures. In fact, employees are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate since 2001.

In a market that favors applicants, and with people feeling less tied to their jobs, companies have to compete harder than ever to attract and retain the best talent.

Meeting expectations of the modern employee

Companies have started offering more robust benefits packages, including perks like pet insurance, yoga days, and even unlimited paid time off, while common benefits like stock options, health insurance and 401(k)s have now become table stakes.

Yet even enhanced perks aren’t enough to stand out these days. With 2019 freshly kicked off, it’s up to HR and benefits advisors to anticipate what new benefits employees are looking for, or risk losing their competitive edge.

To offer competitive benefits, companies should provide employee support on a commonly stressful matter: financial wellness. According to PWC’s 2018 financial wellness survey, over 50 percent of employees are stressed about their finances and want help. Financial wellness is something everyone needs, and employees want their companies to step in.

The need for financial wellness help is apparent: student debt has become the second highest category of consumer debt, the national savings rate is declining, and more Americans expect to retire later. Without a financial wellness program, employers won’t just lose employees to other jobs, they’ll lose them to attrition, absenteeism and everything else that goes along with experiencing financial stress.

Not all financial wellness programs are created equal

To provide the best of the best in financial wellness, brokers and their clients need to ensure that their programs are comprehensive, and include legal, tax, insurance and identity theft support. This kind of financial wellness program helps employees prepare for whatever life throws at them.

While many programs are geared toward retirement planning, financial planning doesn’t just begin at the end of someone’s career — it’s needed at every stage of life. To truly support employees throughout their lives, it’s critical for financial wellness programs to offer complementary services like legal plans and identity theft protection, in addition to personalized advice from certified financial planners (unbeholden to any financial institution). A surprising number of existing financial wellness programs lack these elements, and leave employees woefully underprepared.

For example, a CPA can not only serve as a resource for retirement planning, they can also aid in debt payoff, planning to send kids to college, and personal budgeting. And ultimately, even if employees have a solid emergency fund, they shouldn’t have to worry about paying for legal advice or feel like they don’t have restoration measures in place if their personal information is compromised.

Where legal plans come into play

Traditionally, legal plans have served as peace of mind for employees when it comes to legal matters, but have notoriously low participation rates, and aren’t known for ease of use. While it’s true the plans provide legal representation, it’s a pretty niche service and finding an attorney often requires substantial effort on the part of the employee.

Rather than offer employees fragmented benefits from different carriers, (identity theft protection, legal plan, financial planning, etc), it’s time to consider a single option that covers all the bases. From starting a new family to dealing with health concerns, holistic financial wellness plans give employees one destination for the tools and advice they need. With financial planning at the core, each additional service is geared towards improving the individual’s overall financial health.

Regardless of the life event or issue at hand, employees need advice they can count on and resources that will help them manage all aspects of their financial life. Stress management, Roth 401(k) accounts and paid volunteering time are on the rise in the benefits world, but what good are those things without providing employees the range of tools and personalized advice they need in the form of a holistic financial wellness program?

Your employees might not be asking for it yet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the best things you can do for them in 2019. So be ahead of the curve.

Posted 11:00 AM

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