The balancing act baffles employers, brokers, consultants, providers, TPAs and anyone else associated with the employee benefits industry: How do you manage benefit costs while attracting and retaining top-quality talent? Prudential Financial Inc. sought answers to that question with its "Employee Benefits: 2007 & Beyond" report, which ultimately found that "the link between employee benefits strategies and business and financial goals is expected to increase by 2012."

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As employees' demands for coverage increases, employers are going to have to highlight the perceived value of their benefits packages and other services. Some of the emerging trends covered in the report include:

  • Benefits balancing act gets tougher. Sponsors continue to shift more costs to employees, and employees grow less enchanted with benefits. Cost-containment initiatives like wellness/prevention programs, provider consolidation and plan design modifications will grow in importance.
  • Lack of awareness about disability insurance. Worker education about the benefits of disability insurance will be vital, especially the facts about how many younger workers will experience a significant disability. Such efforts need to move to the forefront instead of taking a back seat to many other coverage options.
  • Education and enrollment efforts don't help workers select the best benefits. Workers are frustrated with enrollment processes, which leads them to make unwise choices in many cases just so they can be done with it. That leaves them with coverage, but maybe not the right or best coverage. Targeted, personalized benefits communications that improve understanding are vital.
  • Women want more value from workplace benefits. Female employees value their benefits and like the workplace convenience of receiving them, but they want employers to address their specific needs better.
  • Global benefits strategies gain importance as companies go multinational. Many companies anticipate going overseas in the near future, but most don't have a multinational benefits strategy. Such well-coordinated strategies will be imperative in the next five years.

For more information, visit www.prudential.com

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