Jellyvision Account Managers ask our customers some form of this question after open enrollment. For the majority of our customers, the responses involve the toughest problems and decisions employers and HR teams are faced with today. The specific goals and strategies vary by customer, but there’s a clear underlying theme that all companies are grappling with today: How to keep up in…

A Talent Economy Amidst Rising Health Care Costs

With low unemployment, and what many executives consider to be a widespread “skills gap,” it’s become very tough for employers to find qualified talent. In fact, according to a 2018 survey from ManpowerGroup, “45% of employers say they can’t find the skills they need,” the highest that metric has been in a decade. So, increasingly, employers must differentiate themselves from other companies to entice the recruits that they’re after. One way they’re doing that is by building an employee experience, complete with a competitive benefits packages that can attract and retain top talent.

There’s a catch, though. Health care costs are rising and have become a significant burden on employers’ bottom lines. So, HR teams are being tasked with the Herculean endeavor of enhancing the employee experience, while minimizing health care spend wherever possible.

Now that the stage is set, and we know what you’re up against, here are some of the specific ways our customers are working to either bolster the employee experience or mitigate health care costs. Or, hit the HR jackpot, and do both at the same time. 


Once again, HSAs are the highest on the priority list for ALEX customers in 2019. What does that mean exactly? For most, it means boosting HSA education in the offseason in an effort to increase health care consumerism (AKA: making employees smarter about how they spend their money on health care). On top of general HSA education, a few customers mentioned wanting employees to begin thinking of the HSA as a retirement account.

Year-Round Communication

After open enrollment ends, many ALEX customers want to keep their employees’ attention throughout the year, so they focus on new strategies to keep employees engaged in their benefits beyond those two weeks in the fall. Plenty of customers have been doing the year-round communication thing for a while. Others are just beginning to flesh out what a year-round program might look like. Much of this push for year-round communication is centered around making employees better healthcare consumers.

Wellness Programs

Wellness, wellness, wellness. The meaning of wellness evolves a little bit every year as employers test new vendors, try out new ideas, expand what works, and change what doesn’t. The majority of ALEX customers are still using traditional wellness programs as a way to incentivize healthy behavior that will hopefully decrease the amount both the employee and employer spend on health care. But many customers are starting to expand their definition of wellness to include financial and emotional health, as well as support for specific chronic illnesses. Many employers refer to this as ‘holistic wellness’.

Financial Wellness

Increasingly, employers are aligning financial wellness with their overall wellness programs. But we’re also seeing customers starting to blend their financial wellness efforts with year-round communication initiatives, targeting things like HSAs and 401(k)s, that they, they employer, are more directly involved in.

Emotional Health

Emotional and behavioral health is an area employers see they need to get more involved in. ALEX customers’ interest in emotional health extends beyond altruism; it’s having an effect on their bottom line.

Controlling Health Care Costs & Disease Management

Beyond emotional health costs, employers are grappling with other cost drivers associated with specific health conditions and overall health care misuse. Employers are launching programs aimed specifically at preventive care, specialty meds, and chronic disease management for conditions like diabetes and musculoskeletal pain to combat rising health care costs.

Family Leave & Benefits

As the talent wars heat up, companies continue to see parental leave policies as a key way to attract great talent. Ultra-competitive industries, like tech, started the wave a few years ago by expanding their paid maternity, paternity, adoption, and surrogacy policies. But that trend continues to pick up speed outside of Silicon Valley. According to SHRM’s 2018 benefits survey, 35% of its members said they offer some form of paid family leave, up from 26% in 2016. And ALEX customers are no exception. Over 10% of the customers we talked to mentioned that family leave and related benefits were on their radar for 2019.

Student Loan Repayment

According to Forbes, Student Loan Repayment was the “hottest employee benefit of 2018.” And while it’s not seen widespread adoption yet, it does seem like many employers are just waiting on the edge of their seats for Congress to grant the same tax advantaged status to student loan contributions that 401(k) matches receive. There are some customers, however, that aren’t waiting for Congress and have forged ahead on their own.