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Ask a consultant

  • April 13, 2008 - 10:34 PM

Q Are there current industry forecasts regarding how benefits packages may change as the local hiring market continues to become more competitive? Are there trends or studies showing that companies are willing to create more individualized packages or unique offerings to differentiate themselves from other hiring companies?

KRIS LARSON

VP, CLIENT SERVICES

CERTES FINANCIAL PROS

A Employee benefits continue to evolve because of economic, demographic and political forces. Detailed reports describing these changes are provided by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Society for Human Resource Management.

These changes, however, are occurring in a context of two megatrends: shifting more benefit costs to employees and less government involvement.

Of the three parties responsible for paying for benefits (employers, employees and the government), more of the burden shifted to employees beginning in the 1980s. The most recent major benefit change occurred with the passage of the Family Medical Leave Act in 1993, which was one of many attempts to deal, in part, with an issue of growing importance: work vs. life balance.

Trends for the competitive job market today deal with medical, work vs. non-work balance and retirement issues. Many large organizations have identified the medical plans they support and have clarified the costs for services within the plans and those outside the plans.

There is also a strong movement to get employees more involved in selecting providers that offer quality services at lower costs. Smaller organizations have been banding together to negotiate with providers and insurance firms to obtain the services at more competitive costs.

The issue of work and life/family balance has prompted organizations to provide time off and redesign jobs that suit busy lifestyles. Activities such as providing concierge services and allowing employees to regulate increased or decreased work time are examples of benefits solutions that companies are experimenting with.

MICHAEL SHEPPECK,

ASSISTANT DEAN, CENTER FOR BUSINESS EXCELLENCE

UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS

OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

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