Employee benefits trends in 2020

3 min read

According to a report by Willis Towers Watson, there are two key benefits concerns that currently top the list for the North American employers.  The rising cost of benefits, and the need to tailor benefits to meet ever more diverse workforces. How will employers keep on top of these challenges? We outline some of the employee benefits trends in 2020 to help employers manage these concerns.

What’s driving costs up, and what could change?

According to a recent article in Benefits Canada, rising costs of prescription drugs are the biggest factor driving benefits rates up.  With the re-election of the Liberal government, and a strong Pharmacare push on the horizon from the NDP, a national Pharmacare program may be able to curb these increases and could bode well for employers. However, whether Pharmacare moves ahead, and when, remain to be seen.  In 2020, employers can expect some impact from rising drug costs. In 2021, we could have a different story to tell. 

Attracting, retaining, engaging, and educating Employees.

With unemployment rates dropping and job growth up (especially in Saskatchewan), employers will have to be smart to compete for the best talent, and keep them.  How companies design and present their employee benefits package, and how well they engage and educate their staff will play an important role for business success.  Employers that want to do well will need to go beyond just the package; they need to focus on creating a wellness culture that supports their team to succeed. Supporting staff to get the most out of their benefits, through employee training and internal communications strategies will add value to your employee benefits package.

Focus on mental health support.

In Sanofi’s 2019 Healthcare Survey, investing in emotional and mental health was identified as a top priority; 61% of companies surveyed saying they will invest in this area.  51% already had a mental health training program in place. Mental health issues are a top cause of disability claims; this means there’s a clear financial value for businesses to help employees manage and prevent these challenges. Not to mention, mental health struggles can impact absenteeism, presenteeism, motivation, and employee success.  Employer efforts will continue to focus on this area, both through supporting positive and stigma-free workplace cultures, and through adjusting their benefits plan offerings.

Flexible and tailored benefits.

When it comes to employee benefits, different demographics have different priorities, needs, and wants, so how do employers accommodate them? Options like Health Spending Accounts (HSAs) can provide more flexibility to meet the unique needs of different employees while still keeping costs in check.  Employers can choose to either replace traditional benefits with HSAs or add them on to a current plan so that employees can use them for things like fitness programs and preventative health and wellness, or to cover their co-pay amounts on their traditional benefits. But this employee benefits trend, 2020 goes beyond just the design of your health plan.  Many employees want more flexibility in their workday and style to better accommodate work-life balance. Employers can also look at creative ways to support employees health and wellness or parenting demands through job sharing, remote work days, and more. 

Digital tools and Virtual healthcare.

Many Benefits providers are doing their best to keep up with the technological tools that we’re all using today, from smart phones, to video conferencing, and even personal assistants like Alexa.  This trend will just keep on going, as providers compete with each other to support easier access to their resources. And with ease of access comes increased education and information about health and wellness.  We also recently shared the new and emerging trend of virtual healthcare, which exists within the traditional medical sphere, and is starting to be added to benefits plan options. Virtual healthcare will likewise increase accessibility of healthcare, and encourage employees to take care of issues sooner than later.  

These employee benefits trends in 2020 are some of the top areas where we expect growth and focus this year. Not to mention, these are some of the ways that employers can enhance their employee benefits offerings.  If you’re looking to make your plan more competitive, get in touch any time to learn more about what’s available to your business.