In Uncertain Times, Flexible Employee Benefit Policies Can Help Employers and Employees

employee on laptop and phone


Crafting a benefits program is simple in theory: find out what your employees’ needs are and present options that address them.

But what happens when the needs of your employees change by the minute, to the point where they are unpredictable? During uncertain times like we are currently experiencing in 2020, anticipating employee needs is almost impossible.

That’s why having a flexible employee benefit plan is so important during unprecedented times. It is also a great investment for long-term success, as a flexible benefit policy will help attract and retain a variety of talents from different generations and with different lifestyle needs.


Offering Benefits in a Personalized World

Today’s employees have grown accustomed to an ultra-personalized world -- from emails, to product suggestions, to even entire skincare routines, everything is tailor-made to fit personal needs.

That’s what your employees are expecting from their benefits packages as well. According to a recent MetLife survey:

  • 85% of employees stated that having nontraditional benefits boosts employee morale.
  • Over 70% of employees said having customized or flexible benefits plans would increase their loyalty to their employer.
  • 60% expressed interest in having their employer provide a larger range of ancillary benefits that they could purchase.
  • Some employees would even be willing to take a small pay cut in exchange for more benefits choices.

What’s the reasoning behind these statistics? It’s simple: flexible benefit policies meet needs.

Putting Employees First

Flexible employee benefit policies better address personal needs. When a benefit plan meets employees’ needs, they become more engaged with their workplace and are more likely to stay with a company for a longer period of time.

With a “people first” approach in mind, organizations should be considering non-traditional benefits that truly make a difference in everyday life. The challenge is that this looks very different for each employee.

Given that, the best thing to do is offer flexible options. For example, you may have one employee whose child needs a very specific type of physical therapy. You may have another employee who has a chronic condition requiring multiple medications with co-pays. While it may be difficult to provide specific benefits in this case, an HSA is a flexible option that would be useful for both employees.

In other words, it’s important to provide flexible benefit options that employees can make work for them. Flexible work hours, parental leave, FSAs, HSAs, and retirement savings plans are all good examples.

Understanding the Full Realm of Wellness

While the goal of employee benefits is to improve life and wellness, it’s important to look at the full scope of what wellness means -- especially during uncertain times. While physical health is often addressed in benefits packages, employers should be mindful of the other areas of wellness:

  • Family: Benefits are no longer just about helping an employee care for themselves -- it’s now about helping them care for their loved ones, too. Remember that the family dynamic has changed drastically, so it’s important to provide benefits that support married, unmarried, same sex, child-bearing, fostering, and adoptive parents.
  • Mental health: The partnership for Workplace Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Foundation estimate that $44 billion in lost productivity can be attributed to untreated mental health conditions in the workplace. Make sure that whatever health or telemedicine benefits you offer are flexible enough to include mental and behavioral health services.
  • Life events: A single life event can drastically change the needs of employees. Check in with individuals when they go through an event like a marriage, a divorce, a new child, take on caregiver responsibilities, etc.

Plan for the Unexpected

A big lesson 2020 has taught employers is that they have to help employees plan for the unexpected. While that might seem impossible, flexibility will help them get through it.

Offer multiple plan options and benefits that have universal appeal yet can be used in a variety of ways. This way, when the unforeseeable strikes, or life drastically changes, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your employees are covered.

Benefits Aren’t Just for Employees

As we alluded to before, having a flexible employee benefits policy also benefits you as the employer. More valued benefits mean more employee engagement and increased company loyalty. This in turn leads to less employee turnover, fewer instances of absenteeism, and a boost in productivity. While, yes, those factors will increase a company’s bottom line, it also creates a fulfilling environment that both the employee and employer is proud to be a part of.

The biggest hesitation employers might have in offering a flexible benefit policy is the cost. While that’s a valid concern, there are ways to mitigate extra employer expenses. You can find providers who are willing to shoulder some of the cost, or who will provide product-agnostic education materials so you can make the best possible decision.

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If you need any assistance putting together a flexible employee benefit plan, the experts at Clarity Benefit Solutions are here to help! Contact us today to get started.