What HR Should do in the Face of Rising Benefit Costs


Let’s talk about healthcare.

National Business Group on Health conducted a survey that showed healthcare costs are expected to rise another 5% in 2018 to be over $14,000 per employee per year. While employers will cover about 70% of the cost, employees will need to pick up the remaining 30% — about $4,400 per year.

This could mean a lot of things for your company. Organizations across the U.S. are taking measures to curtail healthcare costs for themselves while implementing new benefits to offset the financial burden on employees. It’s time to consider your plan of action, too, if you haven’t already. We’ll help you get started.

What are companies doing to offset rising costs?

Businesses are beginning to shift the responsibility and costs of medical care to employees while they invest more in disease prevention and employee wellness. Below are a few ways they are doing this:

  • Adopting lower-cost, high-deductible plans
  • Offering employees Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
  • Encouraging employees to adopt high-quality provider networks
  • Investing in a corporate wellness programs and rewarding healthy lifestyles
  • Creating incentive programs to help employees manage chronic health problems
  • Updating prescription drug benefits to lower costs
  • Investing in concierge services to help employees make optimal decisions around healthcare

So as more and more employers move away from 100% healthcare coverage, more of the burden of medical costs fall on employees’ shoulders.

What does this mean for your employees?

Employees are struggling to keep up. Despite being covered on their employer’s plans, four in 10 workers say they are personally or know someone struggling paying medical bills. For millenials, that number is up to 52%.

So it may be time to rethink how companies take care of their employees. Medical costs have skyrocketed with comparably little change to salaries and corporate revenue, so employees and businesses are struggling to adjust. As a larger portion of an employee’s paycheck goes toward healthcare, companies may want to consider alternative ways to support healthy lifestyles of employees.

How an employee perks platform can help

While it’s hard to find any cost-efficient way of making this tough shift easier for employees, it’s worth noting that perks platforms inherently offer employees (and the company, for that matter) a real means to save money. For a low-cost on the employer’s part, companies can help employees’ paychecks go further by offering corporate discounts on health-related activities like exercising and eating well.

One good example is gym memberships. Perks platforms offer employees tons of different gym and exercise class options that are redeemable across the country so employees can lead consistently healthy lifestyles. Considering more and more companies are investing in wellness programs, perks platforms offer a cost-efficient alternative for companies looking to boost wellness without breaking the bank.

The other benefit is all the other savings that come with it; perks platforms offer discounted rates on lots of products and services that can make the everyday lives of employees easier. Corporate discounts on cell phone plans, electronics, and clothes can have a big impact on the daily lives of employees, and discounts on hotels and rental cars will make it easier for employees to take well-deserved breaks from stress by getting down time.

Of course, a lot of it also comes down to communication; make it clear to your team that you appreciate all their hard work, and that you want to thank them for it. A perks platform is one affordable way to do so. Another direct way of supporting employees is through recognizing their hard work regularly. Here’s why.

Employee recognition and workplace morale

It’s important to consider the toll that rising benefits costs can have on workplace morale. Employees may feel less valued or run down with the added responsibilities and financial burdens. While workplace recognition isn’t a direct way of offsetting benefit costs, it’s a great way to increase engagement and help employees feel valued.

Employees that are recognized by their managers are more likely to report having strong relationships with them. This not only translates into less stress and increased engagement, but also greater feelings of job security for the employee. These are simple ways to show them you appreciate their hard work and that it isn’t going unnoticed.

So offer positive feedback, even if it’s a simple “Thank You” note or a pull-aside letting an employee know they did well in a presentation. If you have the resources, it may be worth investing in recognition and rewards programs to make it easier for managers to give employees recognition. While healthcare remains uncertain for everyone, the certainty of feeling appreciated at work can make a world of difference.

Rethinking workplace healthcare

Communication is everything. Let your team know how the company plans on managing rising costs and what HR is doing to champion the interest of employees. While rising healthcare costs are tough to navigate, it offers employers an opportunity to showcase their commitment to employee well-being.

Remember that even the smallest gesture of support can elevate your employer brand; investing in employees perks is one way to do that. Benefits remain a critical part of retaining, recruiting, and taking care of employees. A recent survey revealed that 57% of job seekers said benefits and perks are among the top considerations when looking for jobs. It’s never too late to offer employees one less thing to stress about and one more thing to make them giddy about working for your company.

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