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5 employee benefits trends to watch in 2018
Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of employee benefits and have been making strides to help employees make better financial decisions, according to MetLife’s annual Employee Benefit Trends Study. Employers are focusing their attention on benefits that increase employee satisfaction, productivity and loyalty, as well as on those that attract candidates to the company. For 2018, employers should look to these five trends.
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Human-machine balance
As artificial intelligence and machine learning seep into digital HR tools and other workplace functions, employees are feeling a greater strain on their job security. In fact, 72% of Americans are worried about the future of a workplace where robots and computers are capable of performing many human jobs. Randy Stram, senior vice president group benefits at MetLife, compares this anxiety to the continuation of offshoring roles, and says the onus is on employers to soothe those concerns.

“We’re seeing more forward-thinking employers look at this as an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the workforce,” he says.
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New benefits formula for engaged employees
Employers that simply offer medical and voluntary benefits won’t cut it for employees anymore. The MetLife report found that employees are increasingly looking to their employer for assistance, particularly with financial wellness. Only a third of employers plan to offer financial wellness benefits in 2018, Stram says.

“Employees have been asking their employers to make more benefits available to them,” he says. “Employers have been responding. There’s been a significant growth in the prevalence of voluntary benefits.”

Hospital indemnity, in particular, is a benefit to watch for 2018, according to the report.
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Personalized benefits and benefit communications
Financial wellness, student loan aid and voluntary benefits are offerings that help various subsets of the workforce; there will be a greater need for improving employee benefits through personalization, according to the MetLife report.

“Initially, employee benefits were used for attraction and retention. Now they’re increasingly used for employee engagement and loyalty,” says Stram. “It’s a strategic imperative.”
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Greater ecosystem integration
With personalized benefits comes more touchpoints for HR executives, Stram says. Employers are relying on brokers for advice on which benefits to offer, and they’re also seeking seamless integration between carriers, brokers and third-party administrators, according to the report.

“What we’re seeing is that the complexity level is going up,” Stram says. “Today employers have a multitude of what employers refer to as ‘point solutions.’ They’re looking to integrate these and make it a better user experience.”
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Data security dilemma
Benefits segmentation can create security hazards for employees, which puts more pressure on HR executives to streamline their HR ecosystem, according to the MetLife report. The report also found that to-thirds of employers are concerned about being the target in a cyberattack.

“The more providers they work with and the more touchpoints in their employee benefit ecosystem — and more places the data resides — the more vulnerable it becomes,” Stram says.

He suggests that HR executives reduce the number of providers they work with to better contain the ecosystem and keep data secure.