Employees today expect benefits to go beyond physical health to a broader concept of wellness.
The employee benefits industry has answered the call, giving employers and brokers more benefits that offer employees tools to better navigate their lives.
Here are the top seven benefits to consider for upcoming enrollment periods that help look after employees personal well-being:
1. Legal protection - Employees may require costly legal representation for divorce, financial woes, neighborly disputes, property transactions, estate planning, and more. For most employees the costs and time required to attend to these issues are financially and emotionally draining. Now, 59 percent of employers offer legal plans as a voluntary benefit, according to a 2016 survey by Willis Towers Watson.
2. Financial coaching - Offering financial coaching can be a bedrock voluntary benefit for employers given that it is central to protecting employees from falling into the kind of dire straits where other benefits like legal protection need to be used. 58 percent of Americans believe their financial planning needs improvement, according to a Northwestern Mutual study.
3. Identity theft resolution and monitoring - Identity theft can lead to financial and healthcare fraud that can take years to resolve. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 18 million people fell victim to identity theft in 2014. The emotional effects of identity theft are well documented and easy to understand: anger, frustration and feelings of violation and vulnerability and the corresponding impact on wellness are clear. Identity protection and monitoring services can bolster employee productivity by providing critical resources to handle the frustrating complexities of rectifying fraud conducted using their own identities.
4. Health advocacy benefits - Health advocacy has been a growing voluntary benefit over the last few years because it can help employees navigate a complex and exhausting system, offering both administrative and even clinical support. Health advocacy can reduce employee anxiety, improve overall wellness through better heath decisions and also help consumers get a better financial deal from their health care choices.
5. Meditation services - Research indicates that meditation has substantial benefits in terms of encouraging better attention, memory and emotional intelligence. Some companies encourage employees to try extra-curricular relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation. Others have gone as far as offering apps like Headspace to employees as a voluntary benefit at low or no cost.
6. Relationship counseling - One increasingly popular method for helping people manage the conflicts that exist in their lives outside of the office is to offer relationship counseling. While this remains a rarity on most voluntary benefits portals, expect to see this popping up more and more in subsequent open enrollment periods.
7. Child care assistance - According to a survey by Care.com, over 70 percent of employees say the cost of childcare impacts their career decisions. Not wildly surprising given that nearly a third of families pay in excess of $20,000 per annum for child care. Offering dependent care deduction has been a popular benefit for a number of years. A growing number of companies are offering child care resource and referral services that can help with back-up arrangements when daycare centers are closed.