Pension & Benefits News Controlling health care costs remains employers’ top benefits strategy challenge
Thursday, October 3, 2019

Controlling health care costs remains employers’ top benefits strategy challenge

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

The primary benefit strategy challenges that employers expect to face over the next three years are rising benefits costs (82 percent), followed by difficulties communicating benefit choices to employees (53 percent) and the differing wants and needs of a multigenerational workforce (50 percent), according to recent research from Willis Towers Watson. The 2019 Benefits Trends Survey noted that 47 percent cited lack of employee engagement with their benefit programs as a primary challenge. The survey found employers are looking to place greater emphasis on employee wellbeing, broader benefit packages and use of new technologies to support employee decision making.

“While controlling costs remains their top challenge, employers are increasingly focused on a broader benefit strategy that goes beyond their core health and retirement offerings,” said Jennifer DeMeo, senior director, retirement at Willis Towers Watson. “In addition to the traditional emphasis on plan design and cost management, employers are looking for ways to better connect with employees to meet the benefit needs of a diverse workforce and to get the most value for their benefit spend.”

According to the survey, employers are focusing across a broad range of benefits—starting with wellbeing. When asked about their highest priorities, 80 percent of respondents cited incorporating employee (physical, emotional, financial, and social) wellbeing into their benefit programs. Sixty-four percent cited aligning benefit provisions with employee wants and needs, followed by enhancing work policies (61 percent) and incorporating inclusion and diversity into benefit programs (56 percent). In addition, 70 percent of employers plan to focus on enhancing corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and aligning them with their benefit strategy over the next three years, nearly double the percentage of respondents who focused on CSR policies in the past three years.

The survey also noted some employers are changing their benefit strategy to improve their current programs’ overall effectiveness. For example, only four in 10 respondents said their programs are effective at offering significant choice and flexibility in benefit selection, while just under half (49 percent) are effective at tailoring their benefit packages to support their employees’ needs.


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