Last week was the 5th annual Human Resources Executive Health and Benefits Leadership Conference from Las Vegas. I’ve attended many events over the years, and there is no better employee benefits-focused event in the nation in my opinion. It brings together engaged professionals for two and a half days of learning, sharing and problem solving. If you haven’t attended it yet, mark your calendars for next April. Until then, here are three trends I noticed from this year’s conference:
Aligning Global Benefits
Companies of all shapes and sizes are trying to simplify the management of benefits for employees overseas. This trend will continue as long as there’s a desire to centralize governance to headquarters, align philosophy, and create a consistent global employee experience. But progress in this arena is tempered by a few current shortcomings which will need to be rectified including a lack of seamless global solutions, an unwillingness by providers to work with small employee numbers abroad, and a shortage of subject matter experts.
Flexibility with Private Exchanges
Despite the specter of being linked to a contentious piece of legislation and the stain of calling something an ‘exchange’, the word from organizations that have gone down the private exchange path is overwhelmingly positive. Giving employees and their families more ownership and choice over how to spend a large chunk of their total rewards dollars is a definite positive. The latest trend? More companies are working with independent advisors to better understand how they can best put to use this new benefits model. I predict that over time the so-called exchanges will morph into what I dub Flexible Benefits 2.0; this will free up even more of those valuable benefits dollars so employees have increased control over how to spend them.
Financial Wellness Matters
Financial Wellness is the new black. Many benefits managers feel the need to do something in this space, not least because financially sound employees are less stressed and more productive in the workplace. Up until now, a lack of solutions and offerings that could move the needle has threatened the viability of the movement. In some cases, former predatory lending schemes and employee purchasing programs masquerade as answers while causing short term damage and a sense of buyer beware. I’m already seeing new solutions coming to market that address this void. Coupled with funds from long term benefits, this new trend may help many employees meet their most acute, near-term financial needs.
If you’re interested in a closer inspection of these thoughts and more, I had the opportunity to sit down with HR Happy Hour for a discussion during the Benefits Leadership Conference. Check it out on the podcast below:
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