Employee Benefits: Three Important Trends for 2021

With benefit communications as one of our specialties, our team at Westcomm is always absorbing all we can about benefit trends. We recently reviewed MetLife’s U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, which examines workplace dynamics and how employers can best respond to them. The study involved two waves of research—the first from the summer of 2019 before the pandemic and the second a narrower study fielded in April 2020.

As an advocate for consistent, clear and creative benefits communications, we continually review industry publications for ways to help guide our clients’ strategic communications plans. Below are three key survey reveals that stood out—and how we think you could act on them to give your organization an advantage.

Survey Reveal #1: 2 out of 3 employees state they are feeling more stressed than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

What You Can Do: This statistic probably doesn’t surprise any of us. After all, it’s been a tough year and our overall well-being is greatly impacted by our mental health. That means it’s critical that employers intentionally make mental wellness part of the company conversation.

In our blog on self-care, we advocate for reminding employees—on an ongoing basis—about the support available via EAP (which is often free for your employees) or your medical plans. All this demonstrates your commitment and shows that you are plugged into your workforce—something that will benefit your company long after the pandemic subsides.

Survey Reveal #2: 59% of employees say their employers are providing benefits and programs to support and improve their well-being during this time.

What You Can Do: Your regular, ongoing benefit communications strategy should include information on how your benefits and programs support the different aspects of employee well-being, especially mental and financial health. In our blog on EAPs, we encourage benefit experts to remind employees about the resources and benefits available to them—with their employee assistance program at the top of the list.

It’s also important to highlight other programs and resources that help relieve stress or provide assistance—fitness programs, financial planning, employee resources groups, etc. Some EAPs also offer legal and financial counseling, in addition to mental health services, so that’s worth drawing attention to as well.

Survey Reveal #3: 49% of employees who understand their benefits are holistically well compared to the 15% of employees who don’t understand their benefits.

What You Can Do: Let’s face it—oftentimes, employees don’t get familiar with their benefits until they need them. They may not realize a certain benefit even exists or may be unaware of the various features of a benefit.

Our blog about year-round benefits communications emphasizes the need for a consistent stream of communication to keep benefits at the forefront. We believe in feeding employees information on a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly schedule. It’s also helpful to change up the communication vehicle, using a mix of articles, videos, intranet banners, postcards and emails to trickle out information on various topics. When information is regularly available, employees can review these items at their convenience—when they need it—while gaining a quicker understanding of what benefits are available and how they work.

Success Comes from Knowing Employees

To help your employees and your organization succeed, you must have a gauge of your employees’ temperature. For example,

• What are their challenges or stressors?

• Are they leveraging the benefits, programs and resources available?

• Are they fully aware of your offerings?

Employers can support the challenges their employees face with a strong, well-rounded benefits program that is communicated clearly and on a consistent basis. Knowing your employees well often leads to success on many levels.

Need help improving your employees’ understanding of benefits? Drop us a note below or connect with us @westcomm on LinkedIn.