Brian Haney, CAE, is vice president of the Haney Company in Silver Spring, MD.
The gig economy has changed the dynamics of the workforce and created new expectations surrounding benefits. Knowing what’s expected and communicating well can help your association come out on top in the benefits arena.
The gig economy has dramatically changed employee expectations by offering a better blend of work and life. Gig workers, who typically work per project, want three things, according to a 2019 MetLife study: a flexible schedule, the ability to work where they want, and the ability to take on multiple different projects. This mindset has seeped into the overall work culture and shifted the paradigm for traditional workers, who now don’t just live to work; but work to live. Recognizing that employees need the flexibility and support to not only manage but also enrich their lives means employee benefits can take on a powerful new role: that of supporting people personally and professionally.
While the gig economy is shifting expectations, the core benefits of health insurance and retirement plans remain critical foundations. However, beyond that, several trends have emerged.
Associations must focus on communicating the relevance of benefits and how they play a useful role in everyday life.
While the emerging benefits trends may seem new and different, they are emblematic of employee’s core needs. According to that MetLife survey previously mentioned, the most important benefits to employees have two things in common:
By understanding employee motivations, associations can develop strategies to better care for their workforce, offering benefits solutions that will increase engagement, improve productivity, and increase loyalty. MetLife captures this best, saying, “Employees need an ally, and employers can play this role by creating a workplace that not only recognizes employees holistically but supports them holistically.”
While the benefits employees want are important to know, the reality is most employers don’t offer large sums of family leave or student loan debt relief. While some organizations may consider new benefits, others may not be able to make changes. Even without adding benefits, all organizations can improve the perception of their benefits by better communicating about the coverage they already offer. Associations need to find ways to personalize benefits communication so it is more meaningful across a diverse employee population and drives greater engagement and impact. MetLife’s survey offers three strategies for improving communication:
The key to providing great benefits is understanding. Now, more than ever, employee education is critical to the delivery of quality benefits. Associations must focus on communicating the relevance of benefits and how they play a useful role in everyday life.
Meet employees where they are and help them address some of their greatest needs. By speaking to the benefit of benefits, rather than the moving parts of an insurance product, employees develop a higher appreciation for what they have. Education improves workplace satisfaction, reinforces loyalty, and is a key driver of how associations and their employees can thrive together.