Top 10 trends shaping employee benefits

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The changing nature of performance management, adapting to change effectively and leveraging big data to make data-driven decisions were three of the top 10 trends predicted to dominate the year in a membership survey by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

SIOP’s findings suggest that benefit brokers and advisers could help pave the way for these and other initiatives that would resonate with employee populations, says Nikki Blacksmith, Ph.D., a researcher and consultant in industrial-organizational psychology with the Consortium Research Fellows Program and Kogod School of Business at American University. And in doing so, Blacksmith notes that the use of insurance data and analytics can help determine how to improve each employee’s mental and physical health, as well as performance, in the organization.

Rounding out the SIOP list were: people analytics; flexibility and its effect on the way work is done; the changing nature of the workforce; capturing the voice of the employee; a growing importance of diversity; inclusion of data integration across sources systems, and processes; and increased focus on employee health and wellness.

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From a strategic talent-management perspective, employees or job applicants are looking for intangibles at a time when benefits coverage has become increasingly commoditized, says Blacksmith. They include career development, corporate culture and programs to achieve a better work-life balance such as flexible schedules and telecommuting, as well as employee wellbeing initiatives such as fitness centers or wellness programs.

Other elements influencing the workplace
Overall, the theme of change was seen across the ranking, particularly as it relates to long-time performance management strategies, the way work is performed, workforce demographics and helping organizations adapt to their markets.

While performance management made SIOP’s annual list in each of the past four years, it finally gained enough traction to take the top spot. And while big data and analytics fell slightly in the ranking, the group points out that “data-related trends take up three spots this year, the most of any previous list.”

Two omissions from the current list were technology, which SIOP nevertheless considers “essential to nearly all of this year’s trends,” and social media, which it notes “may still remain relevant to the several data-driven trends this year.”

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