The future of employee benefits
Will companies cut their employee benefits as the economy begins to weaken? And, will the trend toward employees paying more of their health care premiums continue? A panel of human resources professionals from top companies such as City Furniture and BankUnited debated these topics at a Watson Wyatt South Florida Employer Briefing at The Miami Herald on Thursday.
Here are the major points
* Companies are tailoring their benefits to their workforce. For example, The Miami Herald employees are under a lot of stress so the company offers onsite chiropractic and chair massages; Vitas Health workers work with dying patients so they offer generous time off for those who need mental health days; City Furniture has its headquarters out in the middle of nowhere so it is building a health clinic incase workers get hurt on the job.
* Employers are not marketing their benefits as if they were consumer products -- too many employees don't understand their benefits or the value of the total package.
* Expect to see a big increase in the use of benefits related to stress and mental illness. Health insurance will increasingly get more costly for workers but companies are making efforts to keep premiums down through disease management.
* Going forward there may be more hybrid retirement savings plans -- 401ks are dropping in value with the stock market. Just when companies want workers to retire, fewer will want to leave.
* The panelists did not feel employers would cut back on benefits if the economy continues to weaken but they do think they will shift which benefits they spend more on.