This time of year is never pleasant for HR departments and health insurance brokers. It is the time when both are preparing for open enrollment, the time when surveys are going out in hopes of understanding what employees want for the coming year. This year may be especially difficult due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
At surveys are slowly coming back, employers are learning that expectations among their workers are quite a bit different. Those expectations could create some big hurdles for companies hoping to improve benefits packages without busting the budget.
A Fast Company article published in late September 2020 cited numbers from a variety of employee surveys that revealed some surprising results. Below are just a few of the employee expectations cited by the surveys.
1. Better Health Insurance Options
It goes without saying that the coronavirus crisis has brought health insurance back to the forefront. As many as 86% of U.S. workers consider health insurance nonnegotiable. That is not surprising. What is surprising is that the majority of us are no longer satisfied with basic coverage. Today’s employees also want:
- dental coverage
- vision coverage
- disability insurance
- critical illness and cancer coverage
- coverage for coronavirus testing and treatment.
A July 2020 BenefitMall article discussing what might be new in health insurance benefits in 2021 mentioned things like benefit personalization and shifts in cost bearing. Increased coverage for coronavirus illnesses was not on the radar. It is now. Employees expect better coverage for coronavirus moving forward.
2. Remote Work Opportunities
Another benefit more important today than it was at the start of the year is remote work. Many U.S. workers have spent the last 6 to 7 months working from home. A good number of them want the ability to continue to do so when necessary. Some 20% who have had a taste of remote work say they are seriously considering finding a job that lets them stay home permanently.
3. Mental Health Benefits
The BenefitMall article did mention mental health benefits. That is not surprising, given that employers have been talking about them for about a year now. Needless to say the coronavirus crisis has made the conversation a bit more urgent.
The fact is that we could be dealing with coronavirus for a very long time. As such, people are naturally scared. Combined with everything else that’s going on in the world, people are more stressed than they have been at any other point in their lives. They want mental health benefits so that they can afford to do the things necessary to stay mentally healthy.
4. Child Care Benefits
When schools started closing and sending students home, parents suddenly realized how much they depend on the system to care for their children. It should be no surprise that parents now want childcare benefits included in their packages. According to Fast Company, 85% of working parents do not currently receive any type of childcare benefits.
Even more interesting is that a large number of parents say they would be willing to give up other benefits in exchange for help with childcare. They would give up vacation days, sick pay, and even retirement plan contributions in order to get benefits that help them pay for childcare.
There are other expectations cited by Fast Company not mentioned here. The main take away is that coronavirus has changed the way Americans view their benefits packages. And with the pandemic now at the forefront of just about everything, it is creating considerable hurdles for employers as they prepare their 2021 benefits.