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GIC’s Ruth Yomtoubian Brings the Future of Benefits to the Fast Company Innovation Festival

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At the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York City last month, Ruth Yomtoubian, head of the VSP Global Innovation Center (GIC), brought the issue of employee benefits to the forefront during a Q&A session, The Future of Benefits: Transforming Employee Care Through Innovation.  

The Fast Company Innovation Festival, which took place Sept. 18-21, brought together some of the most creative minds in business, technology, and entertainment. This year’s speakers included Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry, Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert, and Slack CEO Lidiane Jones, as well as speakers from Google, Netflix, Ikea, Walgreens, Samsung, and Moderna. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from Yomtoubian’s conversation with FastCo Works’ Rachana Bhide. 

Benefits are Rapidly Adapting to the Future of Work  

The discussion underscored the fact that the benefits space is where the healthcare journey begins. In other words, employers—and the benefits they offer—are pivotal in supporting the health and productivity of their employees.  

As the number of discretionary benefits available continues to rise, employers are faced with an even larger role in shaping their employees’ experiences. From mental health support to family planning, enterprise purpose-aligned volunteering, and more, over $3 billion was invested in 2021 into discretionary benefits, underscoring the focus on innovation in benefits. “If you want to look at the future of work, you [need to] look to the future of benefits,” Yomtoubian said. 

Several key trends emerged from the discussion, showcasing how employers are actively responding to evolving employee needs: 

  • Hybrid Work: With the rise of remote work, employees increasingly seek benefits that support co-working spaces, travel arrangements, and environments that support flexibility and adaptability. 
  • Mental Health Care: Mental health is no longer just a nice-to-have, but a requirement to supporting the future work environments. Employers are prioritizing mental health benefits to support their workforce, understanding that improved well-being contributes to improved productivity.  
  • Life Stage Tailoring: With five generations comprising the workforce, employers must tailor benefits to suit the myriad of life stages accordingly, including offering fertility and family planning support, caregiver benefits, and more. 
  • Data-Driven Benefits: Data is a driving force behind benefits innovation. Employers don’t want to just check the box on expanding benefits—they are investing in platforms and tools to increase access ensuring benefits are effectively utilized by employees and result overall value-add to their business. 

Vision as the Foundation of Health 

The discussion also reaffirmed that healthy eyes and vision care are crucial to overall health. Poor vision can lead to reduced productivity, mental health issues, and physical limitations. Thus, prioritizing vision care benefits is a crucial component of any comprehensive benefits package.  

"When you have low vision—whether that's permanent or something you're suffering for a week or two at a time—it impacts your ability to contribute and to be productive,” Yomtoubian said. “We find that when someone is low vision, it’s often associated with depression, physical mobility, and general mental health. [It’s about] being able to get out into the world.”   

Looking to the future, as a vision care company, VSP’s Global Innovation Center is evaluating incorporating emerging solutions that apply AI to retinal eye scan for early detection and diagnosis of diabetes, hypertension, and even Alzheimer’s.  

Leveraging the Futurist Report 

The insights shared during the discussion are just a sample of what the GIC has to offer on this topic. To learn more about the future of benefits and the innovations that start-ups are introducing to the market, check out the Future of Benefits Futurist Report.

For more vision innovation news and updates, check out the Global Innovation Center's LinkedIn page.