Top Trends for Benefits Administration 2020 Roadmap
  • Industry Trends & Insights

Top Trends for Benefits Administration 2020 Roadmap

New factors are influencing the benefits landscape, making 2020 and the decade to come an eventful one for HR and benefit leaders. Let’s take a look at the three, interwoven trends that are sure to shape employers’ roadmaps for the future.

Recruitment and (Especially) Retention

Everywhere you go these days - from shops and restaurants to job boards - you see the signs, “we are hiring.” We’ve been discussing record low unemployment for a number of years, and up until now attribution has been primarily attributed to economic growth. But one of the underlying and arguably more serious issues is now coming into focus with true clarity. While it is still an economic issue, it’s actually a problem of supply and (not so much) demand.

In 2018, the U.S. saw the lowest number of births in more than three decades, and these numbers also sank the U.S. fertility rate to a record low. The latest birthrate data put the U.S. further away from a viable replacement rate, which we’ve generally fallen short of since 1971.1 This decreased birthrate has a direct effect on the overall job market. There simply aren’t enough people to fill jobs.

Those in higher education are already feeling the effects, and the outlook is grim with the prediction that the college-going population will drop by 15 percent during the second half of the 2020s simply because those students were never born.2

What does this mean for employers?

The competition for talent is not going to let up anytime soon. In fact, it’s only going to get tighter in the next few years as the “baby bust” kicks in. So, employers should be looking at this as a long-term challenge, focusing on employee recruitment and (especially) retention more than ever before.

Employee Engagement

Going hand in hand with retention is employee engagement. As MetLife’s Benefit Trends study points out, a thriving employee is an engaged employee. And in today’s fast-changing, always-on world where work and life can blend together, employers that are able to recognize employees' whole selves and individuality will have a leg up on the competition.

Currently, those employees have some major concerns around short and long-term finances. When asked about top sources of financial stress, employees indicated that it originates from:

  • 72% being able to afford the cost of healthcare in retirement3
  • 67% having money to cover out-of-pocket medical costs3
  • 67% having money to pay bills if someone loses their job3

This makes sense as employees take on more of the cost-sharing burden, while lacking the level of health literacy needed to connect the dots on individual needs and health plan choices. Those in the contingent workforce fare even worse. According to a report from the Federal Reserve, those workers who support themselves through the gig economy struggled financially far more than the average person. Fifty-eight percent of full-time gig workers said they would have a hard time coming up with $400 to cover an emergency bill — compared to 38 percent of people who don’t work in the gig economy.4

This is where employers can step in and play a substantial role. The right combination of benefits and touch points can help employees manage the unexpected and plan for the future, while creating meaningful connections between work and life.

Technology is making it even easier to accomplish both a plan design that incorporates a diverse set of benefits and relevant, personalized communication that help healthcare consumers better understand their benefit options. Plus, modern benefit solutions give employers the power to offer the right mix of voluntary products without additional cost or administrative burden and offer them to not only full-time employees, but part-time and gig workers as well.    

Artificial Intelligence

Over the next decades, we will undoubtedly see massive change as automation, robotics and artificial intelligence become increasingly important to helping everyone work more efficiently as well as drive higher levels of engagement. We’re already seeing this shift and the connections AI can create.

Although formerly a passive, once-a-year event, benefits engagement is now a continuous, year-round experience. Through AI and machine learning, employees are getting a hyper-personalized experience where health plans are presented that are specific to their needs or communication is triggered based on eligibility and behavior to drive smarter utilization.

In case you think that employees are the only ones experiencing the power of AI, employers are also seeing the administrative efficiencies and data-informed decision-making that comes from artificial intelligence. For example, anomalies in payroll deduction files can be discovered in seconds and insights in designing benefits plans are delivered at the point of decision.

Gain a better understanding about AI's impact in the workplace in the eBook, Busting 5 Myths About AI and Its Role in HR & Benefits.



2 U.S. News & World Report

3 MetLife’s 17th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2019

4 Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018, May 2019, Federal Reserve