Hard to believe, but we’re halfway through the year. And firms and their HR professionals have been planning their benefit strategies for next year as the Great Resignation marches on into 2023.
Due to fluctuating economic conditions and the tight labor market, 2023 is going to be a balancing act between ensuring benefits are financially sustainable, and able to attract and retain talent.
Here at HR Morning, we wish we had a crystal ball to help predict just how to do that successfully. But we don’t. One thing you can use to ponder next year’s benefits is Mercer’s latest survey on 2023 employer health and benefit strategies.
“Employers are grappling with finding a delicate balance between what they need to do for talent attraction and retention in tight labor markets versus the challenges of the current economic environment,” said Tracy Watts, senior partner and national leader for US health policy, Mercer. “Employers need to be really thoughtful and specific about their benefits enhancements to ensure they will get a return on their investment. This requires an understanding of the values and needs of their unique workforce.”
Benefit strategies focus on affordability, access
The result of polling 708 employers of all sizes is that two-thirds of firms plan to continue enhancing their health and benefits offerings in 2023 to improve talent attraction and retention. While this isn’t anything new, it’s what most firms have been doing in 2022, virtual care will be taking center stage again to help reduce costs and expand access, but with a different focus. And low- and no-deductible health plans will also play a bigger role in 2023.
With a nod to the fact that employees are more concerned than ever with lifestyle fit of the company they work for, money alone won’t attract or keep them. That’s why 61% of employers are surveying their employees on benefits preferences to find what works best for their people, culture and business.
Here’s what they found:
Honestly, flexibility isn’t going away any time soon, if ever. Just keep it on your priority list because 50% of U.S. employees said it’s a deal breaker when it comes to staying with a firm or joining it.
Most employers recognize this because 78% already provide the option to work from home and 66% offer flexible work schedules, including four-day work weeks.
“In situations where there are no additional dollars to invest, flexibility is a great place to start. Flexibility can take many forms, directly supports work-life balance and often doesn’t come with a high price tag,” added Watts.
Meeting the needs of employees’ physical, emotional, social and financial well-being is still a number one priority for employers. But they can’t do that if the money isn’t there.
To help keep expenses under control virtual care is taking center stage again. While almost all employers offer telemedicine by now, employers are looking to take these services beyond the tradition:
- 53% plan to offer virtual behavioral health care in 2023, and
- 40% will implement a virtual primary care physician network or service.
Low- and no-deductible medical plans
The popularity high-deductible health plans experienced over the past 10 years will continue to dwindle. Employers are now seeing that these plans aren’t a good option for some employees, like low-wage earners and people who have chronic medical conditions.
Enter low- to no-deductible health plans. Forty-one percent of employers surveyed said that in 2023 they’ll provide a medical plan option with low to no deductibles. In addition, 11% are considering implementing this cost-saving strategy, too.
Another option being used by 11% of the respondents is offering free employee-only coverage (i.e., no paycheck deductions) for at least one medical plan option. And again, another 11% are contemplating adding this strategy in 2023.