Aflac Presents 2013 Benefits Trends For Human Resource Managers To Monitor

More than half of U.S. workers wasted up to $750 a year because of open enrollment mistakes and only 30 percent of workers said they fully understood their insurance options, according to the 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report. In addition, Aflac found that half of U.S. workers who identified themselves as top performers reported they were at least somewhat likely to look for a new job—with most citing better benefits as a factor.

According to experts at Aflac, when looking forward to 2013, health care costs will continue to rise, employer margins will be stretched, confusion, and lack of understanding about health care reform will remain, and many businesses may be at a stand-still when it comes to making new benefits decisions. This presents both a challenge and opportunity for human resource (HR) executives and managers to manage costs and offer the best benefits necessary to retain and recruit top talent.

Aflac recommends the following for those responsible for a company’s benefits decisions:

  • Knowledge is king. As long as the health care discussion exists, HR managers and business decision makers must not only reeducate themselves on new options but understand that employee participation is critical. Employees will be looking for benefits programs and products that address a possible income shortfall. What should HR managers do? Think beyond the baseline requirements and take a solutions-based approach. Those that have the knowledge of what products can be offered can deliver the right solutions for their employees.
  • Consider a variety of products to fill in the gaps. As employees look for ways to stop any income loss, they will look to their employers for products they may not have considered in the past. In addition to life insurance, short-term disability, and vision insurance, there has been an increase in the last few years of employers offering critical illness plans. HR managers should consider all voluntary policies like hospital indemnity products as well. Providing a variety of products not only protects employees, it protects employers as well. According to Aflac, employees surveyed said voluntary plans impact their job satisfaction, their decision to leave a job and overall productivity.
  • Wellness works for the bottom line. As health care costs continue to rise, the wellness of employees is crucial for employers. Studies show that wellness programs that encourage exercise, healthy eating, quitting smoking, and regular doctor exams can lower insurance costs for both employers and employees. In fact, Aflac found that among all businesses with a wellness program, 44 percent agree they are able to offer lower premiums as a result of their wellness program.
  • Get in the group. In 2011, group voluntary product sales surpassed individual voluntary sales for the first time (55 percent group vs. 45 percent individual). Aflac anticipates this trend increasing as employers realize additional the incentives group products offer without the additional costs.

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