While jokes about customers with ridiculously specific orders at Starbucks have pretty much played themselves out – a Venti Iced Skinny Vanilla Macchiato with sugar-free syrup, three-shots, extra ice, and no-whip, anyone? – it’s no secret that today’s employees want customization in their benefits just as much as they want it with their coffee. While they may not be looking at a plan that’s tailored perfectly toward their needs, they certainly want more than the 50-cent cup of standard Joe from the vending machine outside the mail room.

 

Employees Crave Customization

Upon the release of MetLife’s annual U.S. Employee Benefits Trends Study in April, employers will need to customize their benefits plans if they want to attract and retain top employees. Perhaps Todd Katz, executive vice president of MetLife, summed it up best when he said, “it’s not about just medical, dental and vision anymore.” What’s more, according to Nick Otto in Employee Benefit Adviser, approximately three-fourths of employees listed customized benefits as an important factor when considering a new job offer. In fact, today’s workers say benefit customization has surpassed the importance of working remotely.

 

Wellness and Wallets

According to the survey, employees – especially millennial workers – are increasingly concerned about their fitness. These concerns don’t align with employer priorities. According to the survey, only 33 percent of employers say they’re very likely to offer wellness benefits, while just 18 percent offer financial planning programs. The survey indicated that financial stability weighed especially heavy on employees, a factor that will need increased employee education – and employer attention – in the future. “When you understand what’s on the minds of employees it’d be wonderful if the set of benefits is matched to address what is a drag on the minds of workers and their worries back at home,” said Ida Rademacher, executive director, financial security program at The Aspen Institute. According to Otto, Rademacher outlined four elements of employees’ financial concerns:

 

    • Financial security in the present: Employees having control over day-to-day and month-to-month finance.
    • Financial security in the future: The ability to absorb a financial shock.
    • Freedom of choice in the present: Financial freedoms to make choices and enjoy life.
    • Freedom of choice in the future: The ability to be on track to meet financial goals

 

Tackling Disruption

Regardless of the future, the surest ways to handle what’s ahead is to prepare for it and to focus on how new trends can be harnessed successfully. Marty Traynor, in BenefitsPRO, defined disruption as something that takes place when the interface between a customer and a product provider is changed radically. “Much of the disruption that has captured headlines is technology based,” Traynor wrote. “Think Uber, Airbnb or Tesla. Technology is just an enabling factor in disruption. The real point of disruption is the interface — the communications channel that brings customers closer to providers of products and services. The product or service itself is unchanged.”

 

In a recent piece in Employee Benefit Adviser, Andy Nunemaker, CEO of Dynamis Software Corporation, expressed confidence that companies can retain employees by using emerging trends to continually improve their benefits, which he wrote “save employers money by reducing unnecessary turnover and attracting the best workers.”