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10 Benefit Trends To Know in 2024

The year 2024 superimposed over circuit board technology.

When it comes to employee benefits, no year is ever the same. But recent years have made “different” seem like a vast understatement.

Expect more changes in 2024 as economic uncertainty and emotional burnout affect employee health and finances. Other driving forces will stem from generative artificial intelligence (AI), evolving workplace expectations, labor market fluctuations and the diverse needs of multigenerational workforces.

Let’s explore 10 areas in benefits that will receive increased focus this year:

  • Mental health
  • Evolving well-being
  • Professional development
  • Women’s health care
  • Workplace models
  • Employee burnout
  • Care for the caregivers
  • Decision support tools
  • Multigenerational choices
  • Strategic advisement

Mental health

Depression is being reported at record-high levels, notes the Business Group on Health. And more than one in three employees report deteriorating mental health, according to the industry news site BenefitsPRO. This data follows years of declining mental health.

Seventy percent of employers say mental health benefits will be a focal point in 2024, reports the Business Group on Health. As employers seek effective, research-based options, look for increasing awareness and usage of:

  • Employee assistance programs
  • Expanded in-network options for psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors
  • Access to substance use disorder services
  • Suicide prevention resources
  • Apps that diagnose mental health conditions and online courses that teach life skills like resilience, meditation, healthy eating and sleep habits
  • Mental health literacy programs
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy for stress, anxiety and depression

Evolving well-being

Given major disruptions to work and life in recent years, well-being continues to evolve in 2024. Employers will seek a multifaceted approach to employee wellness, including:

  • Physical wellness — The gold standard remains affordable, accessible and high-quality health coverage that encourages preventive care and adherence to medication. Engaging employees at risk of preventable chronic diseases will be a top goal of well-being programs this year. Employees are also growing more interested in proactive options like disability, accident and critical illness insurance.
  • Emotional wellness — Employee engagement, satisfaction and burnout remain critical. Workshops, personalized coaching and online courses can help employees build a growth mindset, resilience, adaptability and other skills to meet the challenges ahead.
  • Financial wellness — Financial wellness is a growing focal point for employees, especially among millennials and Generation Z. In-demand financial wellness benefits include debt and budgeting information, financial and retirement education, student loan repayment benefits and one-on-one meetings with financial advisers.
  • Social wellness — Organizations will be adding volunteer opportunities, community drives, employee recognition programs and office celebrations to draw people together and build goodwill.

Professional development

For many industries, the labor market remains tight. To attract and retain employees amid changing workplace expectations, look for renewed efforts in internal mobility and career-long learning. Trends include:

  • In-house training for new skills and roles
  • Industry certifications and custom education
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Career pathing
  • Leadership development programs
  • Tuition reimbursement

Many organizations are also moving toward skills-based hiring. Skills-based hiring is based on technical and transferrable skills rather than educational degrees, university reputations or prior experiences. More companies are doing away with education prerequisites in job descriptions altogether.

These hiring practices can:

  • Help internal and external candidates better understand required skills
  • Increase employee engagement and retention efforts
  • Increase equity by prioritizing skills over similar connections or backgrounds
  • Expand the talent pool and improve employee diversity

Women’s health care

Family planning and women’s health often fall through the cracks of traditional benefits programs. Look for that to change in 2024, reports BenefitsPRO. Employers will increasingly address:

  • Prenatal care
  • High-risk pregnancies
  • Postpartum care
  • Pregnancy loss
  • Menopause

In addition to amending or expanding health plan coverage to better address women’s health, more employers will turn to lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs). Because LSAs provide post-tax financial benefits, women have more discretion over where to spend the money to address their individual needs.

Workplace models

More employers are bringing employees back to the office in 2024, but employees still want the flexibility of remote and hybrid positions. Inc. magazine says this disparity will continue to change the workplace. Potential points of emphasis include:

  • Ongoing evaluation of in-person, remote and hybrid workforces
  • Increased flexibility in scheduling and time off
  • A focus on company culture and workplace environments to reduce turnover
  • A wider net for job applicants, including national and global talent
  • Cross-training opportunities to improve professional development and organizational resilience

Understanding your culture and whether employees can get their work done off-site continues to be a critical task.

Employee burnout

Employees have been struggling with staffing shortages, long hours, poor communication and toxic work environments. These elements heighten the risk of burnout, an increasingly common challenge as 2024 gets underway. Look for employers to implement short- and long-term solutions, including:

  • Workload reviews emphasizing sustainability
  • Manager training to identify and address signs of burnout
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Reduced hours or four-day workweeks
  • Paid or unpaid sabbaticals

Care for the caregivers

Millions of employees juggle workplace duties while caring for children or elderly loved ones — and millions more leave the workforce entirely because of those duties. To improve the retention and well-being of employees, caregiver benefits will be a priority in 2024.

Popular caregiver benefits include:

  • Subsidized and backup child care services
  • Vetted resources for child care and elder care
  • Tours of residential facilities and other elder care options
  • Meetings with social workers
  • Tutoring services
  • Flexible hours

Decision support tools

Surveys reveal that employees typically spend less than 30 minutes picking their benefits each year. To increase awareness, appreciation and usage of benefits, more employers will turn to decision support tools to help employees select their benefits.

These tools may include:

  • Interactive Q&A formats to increase engagement
  • Generative AI to answer questions and guide employees to more optimal benefit selections
  • Voiceovers to add a human element and appeal to auditory learners
  • Compelling visuals of costs and risks to aid visual learners
  • Different languages to reach diverse employee populations

With costs continuing to rise, employees and employers both want health care dollars going toward the most impactful benefits. In addition, support tools that streamline the open enrollment process can help free up valuable time for your human resources team.

Multigenerational choices

Heading into 2024, four generations dominate the workplace. Your workforce might span from Gen Z teenagers to mid-70s baby boomers.

Generations aren’t homogenous, but they do show unique trends and preferences. Meeting the benefit needs of all generations can help you get the best from each.

  • Baby boomers provide valuable institutional knowledge and experience. They are looking for retirement planning and education.
  • Gen X is often referred to as the forgotten generation, but they are increasingly moving into leadership roles and taking advantage of a wide range of benefits. These include elder care, child care, financial education and tuition reimbursement.
  • Since 2016, Millennials have made up the biggest percentage of the workforce. They have helped to usher in remote work, student loan benefits and work-life balance, and they will continue to shape organizations from top to bottom for decades to come.
  • More members of Gen Z are entering the workplace each year, and the World Economic Forum predicts they will make up over 25% of the workforce by 2025. This generation is seeking increased focus on mental health, financial wellness, professional development and more customized benefit options.

To meet the needs of varying generations, many organizations will expand voluntary benefit offerings in 2024. These benefits, in which employees pay for some or all of the premium costs, allow you to meet the needs of a diverse workforce while saving health care dollars.

Common voluntary benefits include:

  • Life insurance
  • Disability, accident and critical illness insurance
  • Fertility treatments
  • Legal insurance
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Financial education and planning
  • Career development programs
  • Identity theft protection
  • Pet insurance

Strategic advisement

The Business Group on Health reports employers will be seeking more transparency and measurable results regarding vendor costs and outcomes. Many organizations will evaluate current contracts and new partnerships to improve the employee experience in 2024.

A study by the financial services trade association LIMRA revealed that employers are increasingly asking brokers and benefits advisers for support in this effort. Turn to your trusted advisers for information on:

  • Plans, pricing and networks
  • Employee engagement
  • Benefit trends
  • Legislation and regulations
  • Compliance efforts
  • Cost-saving initiatives
  • Third-party vendors

Stay in touch with your benefits adviser at Consolidated Insurance + Risk Management throughout 2024. They can help you match your benefit dollars to your most pressing business and employee needs, now and for years to come.

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