Benefits in a COVID world: 6 trends for 2021.

During the pandemic, employees have placed a higher value and attention on their company-provided benefits. As a result, many organizations have made real-time changes to their benefit plans.

A new Aflac survey of 1,200 companies and 2,000 staff identified these trends for 2021:

  1. Most employers plan to maintain or strengthen benefits. A large majority of employers say they plan to continue their benefits program without cuts. Many already beefed up their benefits packages in response to COVID. The top improvements:

    * Time off or flex scheduling for dependent care (47%).

    * Additional paid time off for staff diagnosed with COVID (39%).

    * Additional paid time off to care for family with COVID (34%).

    * Financial support (22%).

    * Stipends to support transition to remote work (20%).

  2. Virtual enrollment is the future--now. More than half (56%) of businesses report moving to a mostly remote structure due to COVID, and 26% view this as a long-term plan. Brochures and face-to-face meetings are out. Online educational videos, live chat, vendor tools and self-service website enrollment is in.

  3. Less 'auto-pilot' enrollment. In the past, a huge majority of employees simply chose the same benefits plan each year. But more than half of workers say COVID has led them to invest more time researching the best options. Benefit education will continue to be a vital piece of any good benefit program.

  4. Telemedicine continues to explode. For many, the 2020 experiment worked well. Look for companies to continue offering telemedicine as part of their wellness initiatives.

  5. Cost continues to be the main hurdle. More than half (52%) of small employers that offer benefits say rising insurance costs are preventing them from increasing wages. About 1 in 5...

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