Since the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, we’ve been busy sipping hot chocolate and reading every article about 2019 benefits trends we could find, looking for trends in those trends articles. (We know how to have FUN.)

Behold the fruits of our labor: three of the trends most frequently predicted for this year…and some steps your HR team can take to follow them (if you’re so inclined).

Trend #1: More flexible plans and voluntary benefits

With the unemployment rate at fifty-year lows, job candidates can afford to be choosier than ever, and benefits are often the deciding factor in where they end up. As a result, more companies are catering to people’s individual needs by offering more flexibility and a bigger range of options.

According to this HRExecutive article:

“More than half (51%) of organizations surveyed this year say they have either implemented flexible benefit plans with a further 14% considering doing so in future.*”

And according to this HRDailyAdvisor piece:

“As a consequence of deeper insights into employee wants and habits, employers are shifting their focus away from blanket benefits solutions to more personalized options. For younger employees, that may mean student loan reimbursement in lieu of a retirement plan. For older employees, educational resources around planning for retirement may be more relevant.”

What your company can do:
Ask your broker to help you research alternative plan designs or additional benefits that might be a good fit for your workforce. Then survey your employees as early as possible to see which options they’d be most interested in and use that data when you do a cost-analysis.

Read this article for tips on creating employee surveys that capture meaningful feedback.

Trend #2: A greater focus on personalized communications

The trend to give employees exactly what they need (and nothing that they don’t) also extends to the way employers communicate with their employees to help them understand and use those benefits.

According to this BenefitsPRO article:

“Employers should focus on partnering with providers who are delivering customized messaging to employees to maximize engagement and adoption rates. 2019 will likely see employers not only offering more customized and personalized benefits, but also more robust communications that speak directly to employees’ needs.”

And from this HRExecutive article:

“In addition to providing employees with the flexibility to choose benefits that are relevant to them, benefits communications play a key role in making employees feel understood and supported by their organization.”

What your company can do:

• Consider investing in digital benefits communication tools that can engage employees one-on-one, ask about their unique health care needs, and offer guidance accordingly.

• Present information as easy-to-scan FAQs whenever possible. Use real, human words: your real human employees will thank you. And make sure your questions reflect the concerns of different employee groups.

• Make your communications as timely as possible. For example, don’t designate February your Financial Wellness month, and cross your fingers for engagement. Instead, think about when employees will naturally be more focused on their finances and reach out then: after annual salary reviews or promotions…or after April 15, when tax refunds or bills are on their mind.

Read this article to find out the engagement tactics used by some of our most successful customers.

Trend #3: Even more commitment to convenient, affordable Telehealth options

Here’s a 2019 trend that’s more like an Every Single Stinkin’ Year trend: medical care is getting more expensive. Comparison shopping and telemedicine continue to be bright spots, helping customers save money while still getting the care they need. And telemedicine, in particular, is gaining traction in a big way.

According to this article on

“Over half of all companies say providing more virtual-care solutions is their top initiative for 2019.”

And according to this article in HR Daily Advisor:

“Telemedicine and prescription drug discounts are the first order of business in the new year. Telemedicine gives insurers the opportunity to cut down on costs of in-person doctor visits for simple checkups.”

What your company can do:

If you’re intimidated by the whole concept of telemedicine, first check out this video from our pal Tim Sackett, who explains how he got over his fear of this new technology…and became its biggest fan.

If you’re planning to invest more in telemedicine, make sure to market it aggressively (and thoughtfully) to get your employees over any qualms they may have. Focus less on the tool’s features and more on how the tools will make their lives easier (“you can get a prescription without leaving your bed!”) and possibly save them money.

*Source: Thomsons’ 2018/2019 Global Employee Benefits Watch Report