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The Future of Employee Benefits is Here:  Unlocking The Crucial Role They Play in a Startup’s Success

One thing is undeniably clear about today’s workforce: employees are far more empowered than ever. 

The shift in perspective regarding employees is a welcome change. It highlights the importance of employers and plan sponsors adapting to this shift and reshaping what their employees seek from their personal and professional lives. 

Despite constant macroeconomic changes, a weakened job market, and shifting internal team dynamics, benefits must be a constant source of stability for every startup because of their transformative impact on their families and work/life balance. 

Work has forever changed. Benefits need to keep changing with it. 

“Because the workforce is changing, benefits must also change.” – EY

Everything changed in March 2020, and it’s been a rollercoaster in the four years since. 

From the initial surge in remote work to completely change what work/life balance means ignited the Great Resignation and evolved to The Great Talent Migration with workers flocking towards new opportunities that support that balance and better all-round compensation. Record-high inflation levels crept in and initiated the quiet quitting era where overworked and burnt-out workers reluctantly stayed in their current roles because of a tightened job market. 

Now, after seeing mass layoffs across the tech sector, the rising cost of living, the housing market, and fewer quality roles available, more employees are staying at their current jobs for financial stability rather than testing the weakened job market, even though they feel undervalued or unmotivated in their current roles. 

Needless to say, the past four years were an empowering period for workers. They showed what the modern workforce demands from their employers and how they want to be supported. 

Impacting workers through modern benefits for their families 

Amidst these sweeping changes, one constant has remained steadfast: employee benefits have always been crucial in showing that companies truly care about their employees. It’s hard to see wave after wave, headline after headline of layoffs rippling through the tech space and not to feel that impact and anxiety on workers and their families.

So while benefits will always be an essential part of attracting company-changing talent, this new era of employee benefits recognizes the significant impact that internal culture and broader economic trends have on the driving forces within the modern job market. Happy, healthy, and unstressed workers are efficient, productive, and competent workers. 

“It’s clear that all employers need to change how they look at their employees because current and prospective employees are looking differently at them. Simply put, people are reevaluating for whom they work, how they work, and where they work.” Forbes 

Maintaining benefits during inflation provides stability for the team 

In times of economic uncertainty, the assurance of continued benefits can alleviate employee anxiety. This sense of security can translate to improved morale, focus, and productivity at work, as employees are reassured that their employer is committed to supporting them through challenging economic conditions. 

During periods of prolonged inflation, the cost of living rises, the housing market is impacted, credit cards are leaned on, and employees feel the pinch as their monthly family expenses increase. By keeping benefits consistent and offering new benefits like family caregiving benefits, financial wellness programs, support for substance use, or pet healthcare, employers can provide a sense of stability and security to their workforce. 

Reassuring employees verbally and through increased compensation can effectively support them during inflation, fostering a sense of security and motivation

The digitization of benefits is powered by a seamless user experience

The increasing demand for digital benefits stems from the exceptional user experiences set by insurance carriers and emerging telehealth providers in various industries, a trend set to persist. 

Here are a few ways providers are designing confidential and easily accessible services. 

  • Pharmaceutical benefits, 

  • Student loan debt relief,

  • Family-planning + fertility-care,
  • Accessible addiction treatment, 
  • Offering financial wellness programs to help with investments and discounted services,
  • Employer matching contributions to RRSP’s.

[Survey] “90% of employees say that they value personalized, digital experiences as they shop for, select and use their benefits.” 

Both employers and employees want efficiency and personalization in their benefits plans. By maintaining a digital-first benefits strategy, employers can drive engagement and demonstrate their dedication to supporting their employees by meeting them where they are. 

Are you paying too much for benefits? Don’t scale up too fast. 

We always recommend that tech startups avoid starting too high in terms of coverage because it’s just not sustainable. Our professional opinion is to scale up your benefits coverage as your funding increases. Our methodology at Orchard Benefits is to always start small until you have proof of concept and funding and then scale up as your company grows. 

Tech companies never want to blindly scale up and throw a ton of cash at employee benefits with the hopes of luring in game-changing talent, only to have to pull back months later because they’re in a cash crunch. Removing these valuable benefits from their workers and their families doesn’t convey trust or confidence in the company’s health. 

Flexibility for workers, families, and plan sponsors.

One-size-fits-all approaches are rapidly becoming outdated as employees seek benefits packages tailored to their individual needs and circumstances. 

Here’s how benefits and flexibility with work dynamics can remain relevant and impactful for all employees.

    • Flexible work arrangements: Modern employees want to work where they want, take time off when needed, or compress their schedules. This is particularly advantageous for employees seeking to juggle work with additional responsibilities, such as caregiving for children or aging parents.
    • Remote and hybrid work: Offering flexible work arrangements and autonomy in remote work helps workers feel engaged, trusted, productive, and connected.
  • Paid time-off policies: In an industry known for demanding schedules, high-pressure work environments, and high talent demand, generous paid time-off flexibility gives employees more control over their work-life balance.
  • Healthcare spending accounts: Healthcare spending accounts allow employees to set aside a portion of their pre-tax income to cover certain medical procedures not fully covered by insurance.

The nature of work has undergone considerable transformation in an era characterized by rapid technological advancement and shifting societal norms. By offering flexibility in benefits and work arrangements, plan sponsors can adapt to this changing landscape and provide options accommodating various families.

Benefits need to evolve as young companies evolve.

As a company grows and transforms, so do the needs and expectations of its workforce. 

Benefits play a crucial role in fostering a healthy and dedicated company culture by demonstrating to employees that their well-being is valued. This, in turn, boosts morale, loyalty, and engagement. When an organization invests in benefits, it sends a powerful message that it is committed to caring for its employees beyond their salaries.

Benefits will always be a key component of a healthy and dedicated company culture, and even small offerings can go a long way in attracting, retaining, and motivating employees in today’s highly competitive business landscape. A fulfilled team is high-performing, enhancing loyalty, reducing turnover, and ultimately contributing to a more stable and cohesive team environment. 

Stay in the loop on employee startup benefit trends by reading the Orchard blog