employee benefits

What is small business employers’ top priority these days? Managing costs, such as high deductible health plans, multiple plan options and telemedicine.

By Mike Barone

At HUB we just released our third annual employee benefits study, Employee Benefits Barometer 2018: New Research Reveals the Business Value of Strategic Benefits Planning, which examines the complexities of managing benefits and the value of multi-year planning to better position human resources as business strategists to the executive suite.

We talked to more than 300 employee benefits professionals from small-medium sized businesses, and found that managing costs remains the top benefit priority, with 66% of respondents ranking it as a key 2018 concern. Additionally, respondents cited that the most effective cost-cutting strategies in 2017 included high deductible health plans, multiple plan options and telemedicine benefits.

However, while two-thirds of respondents say one of their 2018 goals is to better manage health benefits costs, 49% do not plan to implement any new cost management programs in the next 12 to 18 months. What’s more, 54% believe they have done all they can reasonably do to control rising medical costs.

Here are some more interesting findings:

  • HR executives still aren’t embracing multi-year benefits planning: 66% of respondents say they spend less than a year developing their annual benefit plan changes making it difficult to plan cost cutting strategies that have a long-term impact.
  • Few prioritize addressing the diverse benefit needs of a multi-generational workforce: Even though millennials are playing an increasingly important role in the workforce, just 20% of respondents identified this objective as a top priority, down from 28% last year.
  • Technology investments face C-suite skepticism: 46% say technology upgrades would reduce their workload, but 34% report challenges convincing CEOs and CFOs to make such investments.
  • Wellness can provide a morale boost: 51% say improved employee morale was the biggest benefit of newly implemented wellness programs followed by employee stress reduction and employee productivity at 32%.

Mike Barone is President of Hub International’s Employee Benefits practice.

Employee benefit stock by bleakstar/Shutterstock