Business of Well-being

How to Break Free From Living in the Age of Benefits Past

There is an adage that says living in the past will kill your future. It is true of life, and it is also true in the workplace: Companies that want to remain strong and retain their best assets - talented employees - continually assess their health insurance options to ensure they are right for today, not for yesterday. Staying on top of the latest benefits trends is especially important in today's climate.

Workers who were leery about making moves during a tough economy may now be seeking new opportunities. To keep them in place - and to attract the cream of the crop of new employees - companies that were once "employers of necessity" must become "employers of choice." One way to do so is by ensuring benefits offerings are plentiful, competitive, affordable and innovative. With that in mind, here are a few of the trends we see for the coming year:

1. Technology is the new normal

Since its inception seven years ago, the Aflac WorkForces Report1 has recorded significant increases in online open enrollment, from 38 percent in 2011 to 61 percent in 2017. Furthermore, 8 in 10 companies using technology as part of the enrollment experience - such as videos, websites, and chat - indicated that doing so improved the process.

But that is not all: 87 percent said using enrollment technology enhanced employees' understanding of their benefits, and 83 percent said it improved their ability to tailor benefits to workers' preferences.

2. Communication is taking a modern turn

Companies realize that today's employees, many of whom have grown up with the internet and smartphones, are increasingly influenced by digital messaging. Moreover, employees of all ages and work phases can better absorb information that is delivered in short, bite-sized pieces throughout the year.

For these reasons, wise companies are using a variety of communications tactics, from emails and videos to traditional printed materials, and sharing them on a monthly or bimonthly basis.

3. One-stop shopping makes benefits shopping simpler

Selecting employee benefit options can be exhausting for HR professionals: life insurance from one company, vision insurance from another, dental insurance from somewhere else. That is why many insurance providers, like Aflac, offer a wide variety of products and services. (1) Not only is one-stop shopping convenient, but it also may reduce companies' reporting and paperwork chores.

4. Voluntary insurance is becoming essential to employees' benefits packages

These types of policies include voluntary life, disability, critical illness, hospital, accident, cancer insurance and more. They pay policyholders cash benefits when they are sick or injured and are usually obtained through an employee's workplace.

With the cost of health insurance and out-of-pocket costs rising, it is not surprising that 81 percent of employees see a growing need for voluntary insurance benefits and 90 percent at least somewhat consider voluntary insurance part of a comprehensive benefit program.

5. Today's employees want companies to go the extra mile when it comes to benefits and perks

According to research by Glassdoor, businesses are responding with a variety of innovative new offerings, including tuition assistance, pet insurance, help for new parents, food stipends, museum memberships, flexible work schedules and paid time off for volunteering.

(2) As your company plans for the future and looks for ways to impress increasingly benefits-minded employees, make sure your organization's health insurance options are well-suited to the workforce of today, not that of yesterday. You can do that by ensuring offerings and services are innovative, meaningful and help provide real financial solutions.

Works Cited

(1) Aflac. "2017 Aflac WorkForces Report." Accessed Nov. 29, 2017,

(2) Business News Daily. "18 nontraditional perks and benefits your employees want." Accessed Dec. 8, 2017,

About the Author

Matthew Owenby has more than 15 years of experience in the financial services/HR industry and is senior vice president, chief human resources officer at Aflac, a company with more than 9,500 employees. He is responsible for providing strategic direction for the Human Resources function and executing global initiatives for the corporation.

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