According to Mercer’s Health and Benefits Strategies for 2024 survey, employers are seeking compelling benefits options to improve affordability, increase flexibility and fill perceived gaps in 2024. In fact, 1 in 4 of more than 700 surveyed employers had made enhancements to their benefits programs in the past two years, and more than two-thirds stated that they will be incorporating benefits improvements into their plans for the coming year to boost attraction and retention and better meet employee needs.
So, what changes in particular are employers planning to make to their benefits offerings for the 2024 plan year? Read on to find out.
Mercer Health and Benefits Strategies Survey Results
Employers are anticipating a significant rise in health care costs in 2024, with a projected increase of 7% over 2023. This price hike is expected to pose a challenge to many organizations as they struggle to balance benefits options with cost-containment measures.
However, Mercer’s research reveals that the majority of employers are planning on enhancing benefits to remain competitive in the labor market, likely deducing that the negative effects of reducing offerings to cut costs far outweigh the potential savings.
Enhanced Support for Women’s Health
Chief among these enhanced benefit options are benefits that support women’s health, such as preconception planning and menopause benefits.
According to Mercer, 46% of employers plan to offer benefits or resources to further support women’s reproductive health, up from 37% last year. Additionally, the percentage of employers planning to offer menopause support has more than tripled since last year’s survey.
Increased Employee Flexibility
In 2024, employers are planning to add value to their benefits programs by increasing employee flexibility. Mercer found that 27% of employers offer unlimited paid time off to at least some employees, up from 22% of large employers in 2021. Paid time-off policies are also becoming more inclusive, with growth in paid parental leave for all kinds of families.
Other popular options employers are adopting to foster greater work-life balance include hybrid work options (80%), paid time off to volunteer (49%), remote work options (47%), a four-day workweek or consolidated schedule (22%), unpaid sabbaticals (17%), paid sabbaticals (8%), and time off to pay for an ill or newly adopted pet (3%).
Expanded Affordability Amid Inflationary Pressure
Affordability is top of mind for employers as inflationary pressures continue to stretch employees’ salaries. As such, most surveyed employers are adopting strategies to slow health cost growth without shifting costs to employees. Common strategies include implementing programs to help employees manage specific health conditions, taking action to address the cost of specialty prescription drugs, focusing on virtual care and steering employees toward quality care with a navigation or advocacy service.
Developing a strong employee communications strategy that prioritizes benefits education can help employees become smarter health care consumers — which will positively impact both your population’s health and your organization’s bottom line. Download our Guide to Building a Year-Round Communications Strategy to start talking to your employees about their benefits options.
Looking for more tactics to contain health care costs without shifting increases to employees? Check out our interactive resource, Cost-containment Strategies to Stretch Your Benefit Dollars.
Connect With CBIZ to Enhance Your Benefits Strategy for 2024
Offering competitive benefits can improve employee attraction, retention, wellness and morale. However, employers must evaluate their organization’s unique needs and decide whether to eliminate, share or absorb the increasing cost of benefits for the coming year. For individualized guidance on how to adjust your benefits strategy for 2024, talk to our team of experts today.