business-1067978_1920Attracting and retaining top talent has never been a bigger challenge for employers. An increasingly diverse workforce demands that they be given the opportunity to pick and choose their benefits based on what’s important to them. And more and more employers are realizing that there are many non-traditional ways they can improve their benefits package, at little or no cost to themselves.

Here’s how a top benefits expert predicts things will change in the coming year.

  1. Variety is key. A wide selection of voluntary benefits is crucial for companies who want their benefits package to appear competitive. Options such as identity theft insurance and tuition assistance allow employees to choose benefits that meet their individual needs and lifestyles. And, since employees pay the entire cost for these benefits, there’s no reason employees can’t offer a variety.
  2. Customization is essential. No matter what their stage of life, all employees have differences in lifestyles, financial habits, and more. Benefits should never be customized based on age alone. While it’s great to look at the general characteristics of different generations, employers should avoid over-generalizing.
  3. Digitalization is big. With millennials now dominating the workforce, the ability to digitally access benefits information is crucial. In 2017, we’ll see even more use of interactive benefits education and access via mobile devices, social media, and benefit portals. The ability to optimize benefits using multiple devices will increase engagement and, consequently, satisfaction with benefits.
  4. Financial health is a focus. Employers are slowly coming to realize that their workers’ financial wellbeing is almost just as important as their physical health. Employees who are stressed about money are less productive at work. Companies will continue to improve their employees financial wellness in 2017 by offering financial education, counseling services, discount programs, and even short-term loans.
  5. Wellness technology is a must. Data from last year showed that wearable devices did actually improve the ROI when it comes to money spent on employee wellness. As a result, their use will increase. Many employers will subsidize the purchase of fitness trackers and other wearables or allow them to be purchased through payroll deduction. This could have a tremendous impact on employee health.
  6. Online education is emerging on the scene. Online education benefits is the newest way for employers to help employees boost their career development. Allowing employees or their children to access college courses online is also a great alternative to accumulating mounds of student loan debt. This valuable tool could help workers earn diplomas or even professional certifications with greater ease.

More and more, employers are looking for ways to offer better benefits to their employees without affecting their bottom line. That’s only going to increase in the coming year as businesses continue to look for ways to make themselves stand out to both their current and prospective employees.


“Employers are increasingly embracing non-traditional voluntary benefits,” Halkos continued. “And 2017 will see much more of that endeavor because employers have to look for innovative ways to differentiate themselves to current and prospective employees,” she concluded.