When it comes to trends, everything old is new again. However, that’s not the motto you want to adopt when it comes to employee benefits. Companies that keep the same benefits offerings year over year will do more harm than good. As the health care industry continues to evolve, it’s important to keep up with the industry trends in order to stay relevant, successful and attractive to current and future employees.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the top trends I’m anticipating for 2017.

1.       Tailoring benefits to attract and retain millennials.

Millennials now represent the largest portion of the American workforce and have a somewhat well-deserved reputation for job-hopping. In fact, the 2016 Aflac WorkForces Report reveals 66 percent are likely to look for new jobs in the next 12 months. What’s more, 72 percent are at least somewhat likely to take jobs with lower pay but better benefits, making benefits options an important way to attract and retain them.

 2.       Improving work-life balance and flexibility.

Members of today’s workforce increasingly want work that fits into their lifestyles, not lifestyles that fit into their work. As a result, 46 percent expect a flexible work schedule and 27 percent expect the option to work from home. It’s important to note that these choices are “expected” as opposed to “wanted.”

 3.       Wellness programs are reducing costs and becoming more inventive.

The 2016 Aflac WorkForces Report revealed that 54 percent of employers have company-sponsored wellness programs, up from 30 percent in 2012. Of those offeringnew or emerging wellness options – such as telemedicine, on-site medical clinics, wearable devices or on-site pharmacies – more than half said the service had reduced overall employee health costs. Additionally, employees participating in wellness programs had higher levels of job satisfaction.

 4.       The demand for voluntary insurance continues to grow.

Voluntary insurance is becoming more and more important to employee benefits packages. These products include supplemental life, disability, critical illness, hospital, accident, cancer insurance and many other types of coverage. They pay customers cash benefits when they are sick or injured and are usually purchased through an employee’s workplace. With the cost of health insurance and out-of-pocket costs rising, it’s not surprising that nearly 79 percent of employees see a growing need for voluntary insurance today compared to last year.

5.       Increased benefits education is needed for employees selecting higher cost-sharing health plans.

Studies continue to show that employees are attracted to high-deductible health plans and plans with higher cost-sharing and out-of-pocket costs.1,3 As more employers move to these types of plans, benefits education increases in importance. Education is especially crucial to millennials for two reasons: First, because they’re the most likely of the age bands to say a high-deductible plan was their only coverage option and second, because they more often share negative experiences with their HDHPs and say they didn’t understand how the plans worked.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a solicitation.