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To Understand the Future of Work, Look to the Future of Benefits

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Today’s workforce spans five generations with one in every four workers being over the age of 55—a substantial increase from one in seven in 1975—creating a greater need to adapt benefits to employees in differing life stages.  

In a virtual panel discussion co-hosted by the VSP Global Innovation Center (GIC) and Chicago-based healthcare innovation hub MATTER earlier this month,  Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER and the event’s moderator, joined VSP Global Innovation Center Head Ruth Yomtoubian, Kindbody Founding Physician and Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Fahimeh Sasan and VillageMD Chief Human Resources Officer Amy Smith to speak on how this increasingly diverse workforce is shaping the future of employee benefits. Here are three key takeaways from the discussion.

1. The transition to stage-of-life benefits is being driven by employers’ desire to maximize business value and employee retention along with the varied needs of a multigenerational workforce. 

“We’ve seen this change as a major undercurrent of the future of work,” said Yomtoubian. “But we often forget that the equation starts with employers and the way that they subsidize and support healthcare. A healthy employee means a healthy team and a healthy organization.” 

Citing the GIC’s most recent Futurist Report, The Future of Benefits, Yomtoubian pointed out three specific drivers behind the current shift in the benefits landscape: employers’ need for their employees to be healthy and productive, employee retention amidst a complex job market, and an increasingly multigenerational, multifaceted workforce. 
 
Stage-of-life benefit structures have also developed as a reaction to an increasingly connected and on-demand world where employees desire a more customized experience.
 
“The diversity of work experiences also ladders up to a different trend outside of healthcare,” Yomtoubian shared. “Consumers are used to having tailored, individualized, personalized experiences—so why shouldn’t they get personalized benefits based on something as simple as stage of life?”  

2. Innovation within the benefits space is opening access for more people to receive specialized healthcare benefits that better contribute to their overall health.  

In the face of these changes, employers are reconsidering their approach and recalibrating their offerings. Clinical network Village MD, for example, takes a value-based approach that views each employee as a whole person. As a result, the company has identified specialty benefits tailored to its employees’ specific needs, which ultimately contributes to their overall health.  

 “A lot of the things that we look at as we think about specialty benefits— whether that’s any of the various offerings that pertain to wellness, fertility benefits, financial or legal support, or any additional benefits that contribute to the overall well-being an individual—they’re links to what we do from a value-based perspective to drive better health outcomes,” Smith said. 

This idea of providing stage-of-life benefits allows employees to tap into a menu of options designed to support their unique needs while allowing the organization to better fulfill its own mission.  

“When we look at how we’re structured, we take that approach and that links up to our mission in terms of driving overall, better outcomes, more accessibility, more equity at a lower cost,” Smith said.  

Likewise, within the fertility space, innovation has led to increased accessibility. Recent WHO data indicates that one out of every six adults are impacted by fertility issues. Historically, however, access to fertility care was limited by high costs. As companies, like Kindbody, seek to provide this care through benefits, more people are able to make fertility care a part of their family planning process. 

“These benefits are no longer just a nice-to-have and because such a large portion of the population is being impacted by fertility either directly or indirectly, or their desire to have the perfect family, it’s no longer a nice-to have but a mainstay and very quickly is becoming one of the standard mandatory benefits,” said Sasan.  

3. Innovation around benefits will continue to improve access to health care and ultimately produce better health outcomes for employees  

“All of these trends and shifts are indicators of what is to come. Rising tides lift all boats and that’s very much the case when it comes to benefits. This conversation has become louder because of the entrance of new startups and that has been great for the overall health system,” Yomtoubian said.  

As the benefits space continues to evolve and employers recalibrate offerings and systems of delivery, the collective efforts will provide individuals with better options and an improved benefits experience. Along with the future of work, innovations across benefits will continue to improve overall health and make changes at scale allowing for employers and employees alike to maximize their benefits.   

You can watch the entire discussion here

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