What Employee Health Benefits Should You Offer?

Workers need (and are expecting) employee health benefits beyond the basics

Published Date: Aug 10, 2023

If workers are expecting anything today, it’s more. This is true for various aspects of their employment, including health benefits. They want options that not only address physical concerns, but mental health, preventive care, and wellness, too. And they want them to be tailored to their personal needs.

Many employers have gotten the message and are prioritizing giving employees what they are looking for. Mercer reports that employers cite attracting talent, improving retention, and cost reduction as top reasons for reevaluating their total rewards strategy in the next six to 12 months.

This article explores trends in employer health benefit spending, the business advantages of having a competitive employee benefits offering, and things to consider.

According to a Mercer survey, 64% of employers with 500 employees or more say they will enhance health and well-being benefits in 2024; 28% say they already did so in the past two years.

Part of this is fueled by expectations. A 2022 Aflac Workforce Report found that 47% of employees view supplemental benefits as a core part of a comprehensive benefits plan.

The other is fueled by—no surprise—budget concerns. Employers are swimming in healthcare costs and looking to plug up any holes in coverage to save themselves from drowning.

Where’s Everyone Putting Their Money?

The leading strategies employers are already using or planning to use include programs aimed at improving the management of specific health conditions. Where there’s a concentration of medical claims, there are struggling employees—and high costs.

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions and pain management are at the top of the list.

More than 75% of employers say that MSK conditions rank among their top three cost drivers, according to the Business Group on Health.

Adding health benefits that address the start or progression of these conditions can result in significant cost savings and a more productive, happy, and healthy workforce.

Beyond-the-Basics Employee Health Benefits

Some benefits are required by federal or state law. Other employee benefits are entirely up to the discretion of the employer.

Health insurance and long-term/short-term disability coverage are required offerings in some states and for organizations of certain sizes.

Depending on the industry and company, employees may expect these to be standard benefits—whether they are legally required or not.

That said, thinking beyond this can help you better meet employees’ expectations and improve not only their health, but that of your organization.

Here are some additional employee health benefits your organization can consider offering, if you don’t already. It’s likely none of these are new to you. But the thinking behind them might be:

Health and Wellness Programs

Supplemental offerings such as smoking cessation, weight-loss, mental health, and MSK care programs can pick up where traditional health insurance coverage leaves off, offering your employees the targeted help they need to address their health concerns.

Some, like digital programs, can also help employees overcome barriers that are currently preventing them from getting the help they need, like scheduling challenges.

Paid Time Off

This includes compensated sick time, as well as personal time for people to use as they see fit.

Amongst other things, this can help manage burnout and financial stress that can impact mental health. It also sends the message that your employees’ health is important to your organization.

Healthcare Spending Accounts

Giving employees access to a health savings account (HSA) and/or a flexible spending account (FSA) allows them to set aside tax-free money to use on medical costs.

This can help employees better afford out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, which may help them avoid putting off necessary care.

“Non-Health” Employee Health Benefits

Explore options that, if offered, could end up having unintended health benefits.

For example, offering retirement savings in the form of a 401(k) can help an employee improve their finances—and, as a result, ease related stress and worry that can affect mental health.

Allowing a flexible schedule can help employees better balance work and life obligations, improving their job satisfaction and emotional wellbeing.

Business Advantages of Robust Health Benefits

Offering healthcare benefits helps your workers stay healthy, which in turn helps your company:

  • Reduce absenteeism: Employees who are in good health are more likely to be engaged in their work, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Retain employees: In an employee benefits trend study by MetLife, 69% of workers said a wider array of benefits would increase their loyalty to their company.

  • Have a recruitment advantage: When considering job offers, prospective employees will look at the full benefits package, not just compensation. Comprehensive healthcare benefits can make your company stand out from competitors.

  • Enhance performance and productivity: According to research from the Health Enhancement Research Organization, over 90% of businesses say that quality of work and productivity improved after employee wellness was prioritized.

  • Lower overall costs: The healthier your employees stay, the lower your insurance premiums are. Keeping workers at the company for longer also helps avoid the considerable expenses of recruiting and training new employees

4 Tips for Shaping Your Employee Health Benefits

As you look to extend the benefits you already offer, or implement benefits for the first time:

Consider Who Your Employees Are

Consider their life stage, age, and health status. Think about the types of work your employees do and what might help them stay healthy in those roles.

For example, employees who travel a lot may benefit from a digital care solution so they can access care wherever they go.

Get Specific

Go deep, rather than wide. In other words, offer benefits that specifically address health issues either affecting a large number of your employees in some way or significantly affecting just a subset of your team.

A few targeted supplemental benefits that engage your employees and help them manage problems you know they have are worth more than a battery of programs that don’t speak to their real-life concerns.

Survey Your Employees

Develop anonymous employee surveys that detail your company’s current benefits, along with a list of potential new benefits.

Ask employees to rank which potential benefits they would most want to have in order to determine coverage priorities. Their answers may surprise you.

Offer Choice

Giving employees benefits that suit their individual needs, and that can be selected or dropped based on their life stage, is a key way to increase engagement and satisfaction.

See what a senior wellbeing consultant at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. told Hinge Health about the power of personalized benefits.

How Hinge Health can help you

Joint or muscle pain touches virtually every area of your business. Sufferers are less productive and more likely to be absent or prone to presenteeism. And with rates of new chronic pain cases soaring, already-high related healthcare costs will only continue to grow.

Hinge Health is a clinically complete MSK care approach that keeps members engaged. For everything from minor sprains to chronic pain, our care team uses advanced technology to manage member pain and remove barriers to recovery.

Studies demonstrate that our powerful, clinically validated digital MSK solution yields positive long-term outcomes and claims reductions.

There are many health issues you can’t have much of an impact on.

This isn’t one of them.

Let’s talk about how we can get to work for you.

The pain crisis affecting your workforce

Additional Resources