Employee Benefit Costs and Inflation
Inflation is a silent budget killer- it causes everything to go up, from your groceries to your gas, as the purchasing power of money decreases. Americans are feeling the pinch as the U.S. experiences the highest inflation level in 40 years.
Inflation has been particularly frustrating for Americans who are struggling to pay for items such as housing, food, energy, and vehicles. However, consumer goods aren’t the only thing that have increased – employee benefit costs are also on the rise. With rising inflation rates, many employers are struggling with rising healthcare costs. A survey of large employers from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 96% of respondents agree that the high costs of offering healthcare to their employees are excessive.
With inflation increasing, you may be tempted to cut benefits packages, but now more than ever, a generous benefits and perks package is crucial to retaining employees. In fact, 63% of companies say that retaining is harder than hiring them. Amidst the Great Resignation, HR is having to figure out how to alleviate the increasing benefit costs without passing those costs on to their employees and facing even greater turnover. Fortunately, there are some strategies that employers can use to remain competitive in today’s market while still providing quality benefits for their employees:
- Foster a Healthy Workforce – The healthier your employees are, the less likely they are to have extensive healthcare costs. Wellness programs are a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle. A cost-effective way to provide wellness benefits while helping employees through periods of high inflation is through a wellness stipend. With a wellness stipend, you reimburse your employees for their wellness costs such as gym memberships, home exercise equipment and wellness apps.
- Encourage the Use of Virtual Medical Services – With telemedicine, employees can schedule an appointment with your health care provider or specialist. They don’t have to drive to the doctor’s office, park or sit in a waiting room. They can see their doctor from the comfort of their bed or sofa which makes it easier to fit into a busy schedule. Telemedicine appointments are usually short visits, so employees can get back to work more quickly.
- Supplement Your Group Plan With a Group Coverage HRA – One strategy employers can implement to lower costs while extending coverage is to add a high deductible health plan(HDHP) to their group plan offerings and supplement it with a group coverage HRA (GCHRA), also known as an integrated HRA.
- Eliminate Benefits that Employees Don’t Use – Take a microscopic look at all the benefits you provide. Do you see any that aren’t being utilized enough to justify the cost of providing them? A great way to learn which of your benefits your employees are and aren’t using is by sending out an employee benefits survey. Your company can then invest the money from underused benefits to something that your employees value more.
While it may be tempting to simply reduce your benefits offerings during periods of inflation, it doesn’t have to be that way. Comprehensive benefits attract better employees and retain them for the long haul—meaning employers benefit from a more productive and satisfied workforce.