How America’s Talent Shortage Is Shaping Employee Benefits

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It is not a stretch to say that employee benefits are driven by the need for employers to hire and retain talent. Making a company attractive to work for is the very reason for offering employee benefits to begin with. Knowing this, it is interesting to see how the ongoing talent shortage in America is shaping the employee benefits of the future, both in the short and long terms.

By now, you are probably familiar with what is being turned the ‘Great Resignation’. The term itself was coined by economist Lawrence Katz in a 2021 interview in which he attempted to explain why millions of Americans left their jobs that year.

  • Employers Respond with Benefits

BenefitMall, a Dallas general agency representing more than 100 insurance carriers, cited the Great Resignation as a driving force behind changing employee benefits in a post they published in early 2022. One of first things they recommended in that post is that benefits brokers find ways to improve standard benefits packages for their clients.

Employers and brokers alike seem to be responding to that message. According to a Fortune piece from contributor Megan Leonhardt, employers are increasing their benefits in order to attract talent. They are also finding ways to make benefits more accessible. Employers are even coming to the realization that the narrow solutions of the past are not going to cut it anymore.

  • The Most Common Benefits for 2022

Standard health insurance and a retirement plan have been the go-to benefits for decades. They are still at the top of the list. But employers are increasingly enhancing these two staples with more options. Leonhardt mentions a number of them in her piece:

Dental and Vision

Some 13% of respondents surveyed in a study Leonhardt cited said that their employers had improved dental and vision coverage. It is not clear exactly what this means. Undoubtedly, some had dental and vision plans all along but chose to enhance them for 2022. But there are likely others that added them for the first time this year.

Wellness Stipends

Health and wellness stipends were also cited by 13% of the survey respondents. The stipends are essentially extra cash payments employees can utilize to access health and wellness opportunities. Such opportunities run the gamut from health club memberships to nutrition counseling.

Remote Work Options

Many forward-thinking HR managers predicted that remote work would be a permanent option for some once the pandemic came to a close. They have been proved right. Although most companies want to see employees return to the office, some have decided to embrace remote work and offer the opportunity as an employee benefit.

Hybrid work models are also on the table. Under a hybrid model, employees split their time between the office and the remote environment. A hybrid model offers the benefits of remote work along with the advantages of meeting with co-workers face-to-face on occasion.

Mental Health Coverage

Talk of adding mental health benefits had already started prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic. However, the pandemic accelerated company plans to begin offering these new benefits. According to the cited study, 12% of surveyed employees said they were given access to new or improved mental health benefits for 2022.

The study goes on to list eleven more items. It is clear from the list that not all the new benefits are financial. Yet they are still important to employees. They are so important that millions of American workers are willing to give up their current positions and job security in order to find a better position with another company.