Employers are caught between wanting to attract and retain employees while staring down a possible recession.
That was the word from Tracy Watts, national leader for health care policy with Mercer, at a webinar on Wednesday.
“Employers are fighting a war for talent plus facing the risk of recession – it’s as though they’re planning for growth in the morning and planning for recession in the afternoon,” she said. “We all have to be thoughtful and specific about what we want to do when it comes to providing benefits – these cost real money.”
Despite the fear of recession, two-thirds of employers surveyed said they plan to enhance their workplace health and benefit offerings in 2023.
“If you’re going to invest in benefits, you must be 100% sure you will get the return you are looking for,” Watts said.
Employers are taking a look beyond traditional insurance benefits to support employee work/life balance in 2023, Watts said. More than three-quarters of employers surveyed (78%) plan to offer their workers the option to work from home regularly. Two-thirds said they will offer flexible work schedules, 45% said they would offer paid time off to volunteer, 15% will offer unlimited paid time off, and 12% will fund lifestyle accounts that workers can access for a variety of purposes.
Despite looking at nontraditional benefits, employers also are looking at ways to make their workplace health benefits more affordable, Watts said. More than half of employers surveyed (52%) said they either have in place or plan to offer a plan with no or low deductibles, 41% said they already have or plan to offer a narrow network plan with low cost-sharing and 29% said they already have or plan to offer telehealth coverage for employees who are not eligible for the company health plan.
The employers surveyed said they either offer or plan to offer several enhancements to their company plans in 2023. These enhancements include:
Inclusive family planning support for LGBT workers (63%).
Provider search to support racial health gaps and disparities (51%).
Virtual behavioral health care (52%).
Specialized resources for women’s reproductive health (37%).
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.