2019 In Review The Employee Benefits Trends That Mattered Most

With 2019 fading fast, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the year’s major employee benefits trends … and pinpoint some that will be prominent in 2020.

2019 Trend #1: Family-Friendly Offerings
Companies of every type and size added family-friendly perks to their benefits packages in 2019, including:

  • Fertility benefits—Nearly one-third of employers with 500 or more employees offered some sort of fertility benefit, a rise of almost 10% since 2016.
  • Paid leave benefits—41% of employers of all sizes offered paid maternity leave in 2019, up from 37% in 2016.
  • Flexible spending accounts—74% of employers offer dependent care flexible spending accounts, up from 69% in 2016.
  • Child care resource and referral services—27% offered these helpful services, up from 22% in 2016.

In addition to improving talent attraction and retention, family-friendly benefits help employees resolve work-life conflicts, raise their engagement and productivity levels, and create more supportive workplace cultures.

You can read more about employers’ most favored family-friendly benefits here, and you can learn tips here on how to design a family-friendly benefits package that will deliver results next year and far beyond.

2019 Trend #2: Caregiving Programs
Harvard Business School’s (HBS) report, “The Caring Company,” was just one of 2019’s major reports highlighting the urgency and importance of caregiving programs in the workplace. Nearly one-third of employees surveyed by HBS voluntarily left a job due to caregiving responsibilities—including upper-level managers, senior leaders and highly paid men, who were most likely to report their jobs and productivity have been affected by caregiving responsibilities.

As the report pointed out, caregiving benefits open up employers’ talent pools tremendously, as there are literally millions of people who want to work while caring for loved ones at the same time.

Read about the mounting need for eldercare programs in particular here, and learn about four specific types of caregiving programs employees value most here.

2019 Trend #3: Backup Care
Going hand-in-hand with trend #2, backup care programs gained ground in 2019 as employers sought new ways to keep workers engaged and productive. With backup care in place, employees don’t have to miss work or show up late when their regular care arrangements inevitably go awry.

Featuring greater flexibility and comprehensiveness, the most successful backup care programs of 2019 gave employees access to extensive networks of vetted providers (both center-based and in-home options) while also allowing them to go out of network and to use trusted family members and friends. These programs also addressed all types of care—from child care to adult care (for spouses, parents and other adult relatives) to self care and even pet care.

Read more about the benefits of a flexible backup care model here, and discover the array of hard and soft returns delivered by backup care here.

2019 Trend #3 Backup Care

2019 Trend #4: Leaves of Absence
As noted earlier, leaves of absence gained popularity in 2019. Reports during the year showed that implementing strong, clear leave policies and programs help organizations better attract and retain talent, boost morale, and improve employees’ work-life integration. Indeed, one Atlanta employer infamously learned the hard way just how crucial leave policies and practices are when it was forced to settle a $75,000 EEOC lawsuit when it failed to make a reasonable leave accommodation.

The business benefits of leaves—even paid leaves—can far exceed their costs. Google, for example, saw a 50% drop in resignations among new mothers when it increased its paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 18 weeks.

Learn about three unique leave programs that could benefit your company’s talent attraction and bottom line here.

2019 Trend #5: Blended Work-Life Support

Although it’s been around for nearly half a century, the work-life movement was more relevant than ever in 2019, thanks to the ever-blurring lines between employees’ work lives and personal lives. A LinkedIn survey found that half of workers reported feeling stressed in their jobs, and 70% said the biggest driver of their stress in 2019 was a lack of work-life balance.

Today’s blended work-life models are more comprehensive and better than ever at helping to restore this balance. Blended models provide work-life resources via three channels: professionally staffed call centers; secure, user-friendly websites; and a growing number of handy mobile apps. And they give employees the guidance and resources needed to cope with issues ranging from child and elder care challenges to financial and legal pressures to health and wellness issues and beyond.

One reason the blended work-life model has gained favor is that employees typically don’t use just one channel of work-life support. When given the choice, they use call center services, website-based services and mobile apps, depending upon their situation and the urgency of their needs. Read more about the ongoing relevance of work-life support here and the benefits of a multi-channel work-life model here.

So there you have them—five of 2019’s most prominent employee benefits trends. In our next post, we’ll highlight five key trends for the year ahead so be sure to check back.

Happy New Year!