Build a benefits plan to help attract or retain talent

The flood of resignations during the pandemic was a massive shakeup to the workforce that sent a strong message: Workers are looking for options that best fit their needs and lifestyle — and company benefits may matter more than ever.

“The pandemic and its economic aftermath continue to drive changes in every aspect of American life, especially in how we work," said John Elliott, vice president of collaborative ventures group at UnitedHealthcare. “Employers are being challenged to reimagine the workplace — with the goal of keeping and attracting top talent. They’re realizing that, in the future, ‘good’ won’t be good enough.”

While the specifics change depending on the industry, location and age of a workforce, at least three concerns are at the top of many lists:

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Work-life balance

“Many people are reevaluating where they want to live and work,” John said. “They’re searching for new opportunities using a different slate of priorities and values — and your benefits package can play a part in attracting and retaining them.”

Start with traditional health benefits: A vast majority of workers rate medical, dental and vision among the most important components of a benefits package, including some who say they look at health coverage when deciding between a higher-paying job and one with a lower salary but with better benefits.

Here are five more tips for building a better benefits package:

  1. Lean into virtual benefits – The use of virtual care has skyrocketed, with 88% of adults reporting they’d used telehealth during the pandemic. Today, emerging virtual care is taking the service beyond helping those who are already sick to detecting and preventing illness. Virtual care’s convenience, affordability and access have made it an attractive benefit.
  2. Make mental-health support a priority – The pandemic has many people dealing with stress or burnout. In one study, 1 in 4 workers said they're highly or extremely stressed, and employees under 35 ranked mental health as their top concern. Consider increasing mental health resources in your plan. Options now include self-help tools, behavioral coaching, virtual and in-person therapy.  There are also programs to help employees end substance use.
  3. Consider other voluntary benefits – Many companies are expanding leave benefits for both child and adult-family care and adding health savings accounts. Other voluntary benefits, such as critical illness, hospital indemnity, disability income or accident insurance, are also becoming increasingly popular. Your workforce’s demographics may help determine which voluntary benefits will be most important for your plan.
  4. Offer help for a work-life balance – This focus is one of the most important concerns for today’s employees, making flexible hours, paid time off and remote work options important considerations. Benefits that help employees get and stay well may also prove popular. For instance, some UnitedHealthcare plans now include a membership to the Peloton App at no additional cost.
  5. Look for ways to support all employees – Contractors, part-timers and seasonal help make up a larger sector of today’s workforce. If your organization relies on these employees, there may be ways to offer benefits that have traditionally been only for full-time employees. For instance, some medical and specialty plans may be available for your intermittent workers.

One more thing: Make sure employees fully understand their coverage options. A lack of communication may leave valuable benefits unused. The employee assistance program (EAP) is a prime example. Many companies offer EAPs, but relatively few employees take advantage of them — often because they aren’t aware of the benefits.

“The more employees understand their benefits, the more likely they’ll use them — and find value in them,” John said. “So, if the first step is building a benefits package that meets the needs of today’s workers, the next step is making sure they understand it.”

For more information, visit uhc.com.