Charting the New Frontier of Employee Benefits

Employers are responding to expectations from younger workers for new and different benefits.
Sponsored by BrokerTech Ventures Posted on March 20, 2024

Traditionally, employee benefits have centered on insurance—medical, dental, vision—as well as less tangible benefits like sick leave. But the idea of “employee benefits” is quickly expanding to cover a range of additional services, from personalized coaching to fertility care.

“This new benefits conversation only really started about 10 years ago,” says Jessica Bell van der Wal, co-founder and CEO of Frame Fertility, which provides a comprehensive fertility and family building platform offering one-on-one expert guidance, personalized education and care navigation. “But now we have gotten into the reality where people are seeing the maturity of these benefits, and so are seeing winners and losers more clearly.”

For both van der Wal and Chris Henrichs, co-founder and head of partnerships at personalized coaching provider Boon Health, this new conversation is driven primarily by employees who expect and need more. “Employer groups are looking for more because employees are expecting more support in today’s workplace,” Henrichs says. “And a major trend I am continuing to see is this overlap of personal and professional. Someone who is going through something that’s personally traumatic has a hard time being their best self, personally and professionally…. There’s no separation of the personal and the professional anymore, and that was really accelerated by the pandemic.”

A lot of generations are just squeezed from a financial perspective. It’s created a heightened level of awareness: what am I spending? What am I truly getting out of my benefits?
Jessica Bell van der Wal, co-founder and CEO, Frame Fertility

For example, Henrichs said he personally saw that employee assistance programs weren’t meeting the needs of today’s employees. Boon expanded its offerings to include personal growth, professional development and overall mental well-being. This enhanced level of support benefits both employees and employers – aligning with business objectives of retaining talent, as well as increasing productivity and job satisfaction.

Finances are another factor underlying employees’ desire for new and better employee benefits, van der Wal says. “A lot of generations are just squeezed from a financial perspective,” she explains. “It’s created a heightened level of awareness: what am I spending? What am I truly getting out of my benefits?

“I also think they’re becoming more aware because there are more digital health solutions that are also direct-to-consumer, not just through the employer,” van der Wal continues. “They’re getting exposure to other solutions outside of their employer that are comparable or similar. Younger people are savvier than a lot of employers thought they would be.”

Employer Priorities In The “New Frontier”

As they step into the new frontier of employee benefits, employers should consider how to meet the needs of a workforce whose generational demographics are seismically shifting. “The millennial generation represents 35% of the total U.S. labor force. It’s by far the largest working generation,” Henrichs points out. “By 2026, millennials will represent 75% of the global workplace, and unlike previous generations will be looking for both personal and professional support. You need to think about how you can support varying needs across the entire employee spectrum, and make sure that you can support them where it’s most needed.”

Ensuring your company is meeting employee needs can be challenging, and that’s where data comes in, Heinrichs says. Key statistics that can help an employer judge the effectiveness of a solution include utilization rate, reduction in turnover and customer satisfaction, he adds.

There’s no separation of the personal and the professional anymore, and that was really accelerated by the pandemic.
Chris Henrichs, co-founder and head of partnerships, Boon Health

At the same time, employers must consider “needs that are openly discussed within their population versus those that employees don’t feel comfortable voicing,” says van der Wal—especially when it comes to the space Frame Fertility operates in. “Saying ‘I’m infertile’ or ‘I’m considering having a baby’—people are unfortunately still stigmatized for those kinds of things. But these topics and issues affect large portions of their employee base. One in five people in the U.S. will struggle with infertility. Employers need to take a look at the data, their demographics, and then assess what today’s workforce needs as well as the populations that they want to attract and hire in the future.”

Tailoring a benefits portfolio to employee demographics is all well and good, but employees must also know these benefits are available. Van der Wal says that dialogue should be happening more among human-resources leaders: “It’s great to bring on these benefits. But is it just a box on a spreadsheet? Are they willing to actively promote these solutions, and/or let the vendors actively promote these solutions, so people know that they have them?”

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