As HR teams and organizational leaders take the next few months to review and revise their voluntary benefits programs ahead of 2020, they should be sure to pay special attention to the changing needs of the workforce.
Millennials, who comprise the largest portion of the US labor force, are growing up. They are now 23-38 years old. While 89 percent of them prioritize benefits over pay raises, the question remains: What benefits, in particular, are they looking for? Does the older millennial who is now in line for a senior leadership position still appreciate the ping-pong tables and free lunches that incentivized them 5-10 years ago? Maybe, but it’s unlikely such benefits will be as effective in retaining these workers as they once were.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes building the ideal voluntary benefits program for any generation, but we do have a hint as to what millennials (and workers of other ages, too) might be looking for. According to SHRM’s “2018 Employee Benefits” survey, 44 percent of organizations that increased their benefits offerings between 2017 and 2018 increased their wellness benefits. Overall, 75 percent of employers offer wellness benefits of some kind, which suggests that today’s employees are demanding employers support their health and wellness needs.
Of course, the health and wellness needs of employees are largely influenced by the employee’s stage in life. Millennials, as we’ve established, are entering middle age. That means they’re likely to be looking for family-friendly benefits packages as more and more of them begin to settle down and start families.
Fertility Benefits: A Competitive Advantage on the Talent Market
When most people hear “family-friendly benefits,” they think of parental leave packages, flexible work schedules, nursing-friendly facilities, and other perks that specifically support new parents. While these benefits do appear to be growing more widespread, there is an opportunity here for organizations to differentiate themselves by supporting employees at all stages of the journey to parenthood.
Fertility benefits can offer family planning support to a wide range of employees — from those just starting to think about growing their families to those actively researching egg-freezing options —long before a baby shower needs to be planned.
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Despite both the trend toward more robust wellness benefits and the opportunity for differentiation, SHRM found coverage of fertility procedures has decreased year over year. In fact, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) was covered by 24 percent of employers in 2017, but only 18 percent in 2019. Coverage of other fertility benefits declined from 26 percent to 19 percent in the same time span.
Why is happening? One key factor at play is that health care costs are rising, forcing employers to cut many procedures deemed to be “nonessential” from their health insurance packages. Thus, fertility coverage is taking a hit.
The bad news for employers is that these cuts are in direct opposition to what millennial employees actually want and need. First-time mothers are waiting longer to have children, as many women are choosing to prioritize career growth. Even as societal norms change, biology doesn’t, which means more women will be looking for fertility assistance.
It’s a tight labor market, and the number of open roles is outpacing the number of unemployed people. Attracting top talent under these conditions is hard enough. When employers cut fertility benefits, they risk alienating large swaths of the talent market, putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting.
Additionally, employers are missing out on the high ROI fertility benefits offer. According to a FertilityIQ.com survey, employees who received IVF support from their employers are “more likely to remain in their job for a longer period (62 percent), more willing to overlook shortcomings of their employer (53 percent), and more likely to work harder (22 percent).” Additionally, companies that offer fertility benefits can look forward to increased productivity, as their employees won’t have to spend as much time researching doctors, clinics, and treatment options or scheduling appointments.
A large part of your workers will likely grow their families in some way in the next decade, and as an employer, you need to consider how you will support them on their journeys. Having fertility benefits in place can be key to increasing loyalty, reducing churn, and maintaining an overall positive reputation among current and prospective employees alike. If your company is not currently offering fertility or family-friendly benefits, resolve to make 2020 the year you correct that mistake.
Chris D’Cruz is the cofounder of Nubundle.