3 Trends from 2017 HR & Employee Benefit Professionals Need to Know About

AFS 2017 employee benefits trends report download

We are more than halfway through 2017 and this year has already seen its fair share of changes and that includes the world of employee benefits. Earlier this year at our Employee Benefits Symposium, we heard from a variety of industry experts on what's happening across the entire benefits landscape, spanning retirement plans, health care, technology, and more. 

With inspiration from our Symposium, here are the three can't-miss trends from 2017 to help organizations create strong benefit packages that attract top talent, retain great employees, and promote a positive company culture. 

Health Savings Accounts = Retirement Savings 

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are typically thought of as a tool for employees to use when they need to pay for medical expenses out-of-pocket. While this is a great way to use this benefit, it's not the only way. Besides a 401(k), 403(b), IRA, or other retirement savings vehicle, HSAs can also serve to help people save for their long-term futures.

 What makes HSAs so special in this regard? 

1. These accounts are triple-taxed advantaged, meaning the contributions are made pre-tax, the funds invested in them grow tax-free, and withdrawals for eligible medical expenses are also made tax-free. 

2. Employees can take HSAs with them if they move onto new companies throughout their career. 

3. Any unused funds will continue to roll over year after year. 

4. Employees have the option to invest these savings into mutual funds, stock, or other investment vehicles.

These combined factors, along with the rising cost of medical expenses in retirement, plus the fact that many employers offer HSA contributions, make this an employee benefit that can help employees today and well into the future.

 Brand New Benefits

Healthcare, retirement, vacation time: This is the trifecta of benefits most employers offer today and, the first two, in particular, are the employee benefits that tend to dominate most HR-related conversations. That's changing though, with completely new and innovative benefits gradually being brought to market. Financial Wellness, telecommuting, paid parental leave, and even bringing your dog to work are becoming more "normal" in workplaces every year. 

At our Symposium, we highlighted two companies that are making waves when it comes to employee benefits innovations: Student Loan Genius and Growfund. With the total student loan debt in America totaling $1.34 trillion, Student Loan Genius is working to bring employers into the fold to help workers pay off their student debt. Growfund offers an opportunity for employers to help employees give back by providing Donor Advised Funds that act like savings and investment accounts where investors can choose where to give money when they are ready. 

Learn more about these and other benefits rising in popularity here.

Technology & An Aging Workforce

It shouldn't be surprising news that we are among the most diverse workforce in history. Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers are collaborating together in offices everywhere, bringing different skill sets, strengths, and weaknesses to the table. For Baby Boomers today, retirement doesn't necessarily mean ending their career the day after their 65th birthday. Many still need to keep going well into their 60s and 70s, but many want to continue to work.  

One of the main reasons older employees want to prolong their careers or have a difficult time transitioning into retirement is because of the connection they feel with their colleagues and jobs nowadays. The MIT Age Lab says that one major thing that can help with both of these issues is making the most out of the technological resources at our fingertips. 

From providing new streams of income (Uber / Lyft) to making remote work easier, to keeping connections within a social or professional network strong, or providing help with household duties (TaskRabbit, Nest, etc.). Employers can use these tools to help this important group of employees as they finish out their careers. 

AFS 2017 employee benefits trends report download

Looking for more? Have that "light bulb moment" and download our new 2017 Best ideas Report here