2024 is set to be a year filled with exciting changes to look forward to in the world of benefits.
We’ve put together a short list of some of the top trends to anticipate in the next twelve months. While some trends exhibit new industry breakthroughs, others reflect developments in ongoing challenges faced by employees and employers alike. Together, they make up a compelling story of what shifts we can expect to see in the coming year.
- Expanding Reproductive and Caregiving Benefits
With more employers looking to support their teams with expanded healthcare coverage, reproductive health will be in the spotlight in 2024. The evolution of reproductive health practices and legislation compels employers to adapt their benefits packages to offer the most effective and appropriate support to their employees who view family benefits as an extremely important consideration. Some reproductive benefits include fertility treatments, family planning resources, parental leave policies, surrogacy services, and adoption services. Caregiving for children as well as elders will also feature more prominently among benefits providers – as working parents seek assistance with child care and employees who double as caregivers need support to fulfill the full range of their responsibilities.
- Utilizing AI to Improve Benefits Administration
Artificial Intelligence made its way into countless workplaces across global industries in 2023. AI is quickly being embraced as a powerful tool with seemingly endless usability and the potential to optimize our work and personal lives. In the benefits space, AI is poised to make a huge impact this year by improving the implementation and administration of benefits through enhanced, streamlined processes. AI can assist organizations with their administrative loads by automating manual, repetitive tasks related to enrollment, eligibility verification, and claims processing. AI holds massive potential to improve the efficiency of employers’ benefits approach and systems operations. However, the technology requires human oversight to ensure that it operates within the scope of ethical business practices.
- Continued Financial Concerns
Working professionals across the globe experienced economic uncertainty in 2023, with inflation and looming recession permeating in the wake of the pandemic. While Canada is expected to avoid a recession, Canadian workers remain under significant financial stress as they struggle to cover their essential needs while saving for retirement. High inflation has pushed people to live beyond their needs with salaries that have not kept pace with the rising cost of living. Employers also continue to face financial stress as the cost of doing business – in terms of personnel, logistics, and providing quality employee benefits – has increased. Financial wellness programs and benefits will be increasingly important in 2024 as employees and employers mitigate financial concerns.
- Dental Fee Guides Decrease
Provincial dental fee guides provide recommended fees for various dental procedures and services. These guides are often used by dental insurance companies and employers to determine reimbursement levels for dental care. For at least the past decade, annual dental inflation has ranged from 6% to 8% each year, with significant jumps in 2022 and 2023 that were driven by much higher dental fee guide increases. In 2024, dental fee guides are looking to return to levels more consistent with historical norms – around 5%. This would translate to positive impacts on the cost of providing dental benefits, employee premiums, and available coverage for plan members. With inflation showing signs of cooling, we can look forward with optimism to a return to more stable fee guides and affordable dental care.
- Pay Transparency Becomes the New Norm
While many employers are reluctant to embrace pay transparency for fears of revealing pay gaps or rousing questions from existing employees, the practice is expected to become the norm in 2024 with legislative changes unfolding in Canada, the US, and Europe. Pay transparency empowers employees to make well-informed decisions and puts employers in a better position to attract and retain prospective talent. Organizations that implement pay transparency in their hiring process and in job postings by disclosing salary ranges or pay structures save themselves time and money in the recruitment stage by ensuring that insufficient pay is not a cause for rejected offers. The practice of pay transparency will help produce a more equitable ecosystem for prospective employees and more streamlined hiring processes for employers in 2024 and beyond.
Stay tuned to the Orchard Blog to read more about the development of these trends and more throughout the year.