Trend spotting at SHRM 2015: Wellbeing in the workplace is the new mantra

The ideas were flowing at last week’s SHRM 2015 conference as thousands of HR leaders came together to discuss their goals, challenges, and the latest industry trends.  Out of the hundreds of sessions and workshops that took place, three key themes kept emerging.

The first: There is a shifting emphasis from wellness to employee wellbeing

We heard it again and again: Employee health is much more than just physical wellness.  Increasingly, employers are recognizing the big impact that behavioral health issues have on workplace productivity and absenteeism and presenteeism rates.  As a result, there’s a growing emphasis on developing programs, activities, and incentives that address total employee wellbeing – physical, mental, and even financial health.  New technologies that leverage big data and integrate benefits offerings into a single platform (like our new Castlight Elevate solution) are being adopted to help personalize these programs to fit the unique health needs of each individual employee, so they receive the right care at the right time.

The second: ACA legislation is fueling the switch from a defined benefits model to a defined contribution model

If your company has not yet started to prepare for the looming cost shifts that will hit when the ACA excise tax on high-value plans takes effect in 2018, you’re in the minority.  Many organizations are already taking steps to limit exposure to the so-called “Cadillac tax” by switching to a combo of high-deductible health plans paired with health-savings accounts and healthcare platforms to help employees make informed healthcare decisions.  Under these high-deductible plans, employees will pay most, if not all, of their healthcare expenses out of pocket.  In order to help manage this transition, forward-thinking companies are adopting enterprise healthcare management platforms that allow employees to compare costs across providers, easily track their expenditures, and shop around based on quality, price, and service.

The third: Millennial workers demand flexibility and choice

Last but not least, the trend towards consumer-driven health plans is not just being driven by legislation and enterprise benefits offerings.  According to results of SHRM’s 2015 Employee Benefits survey, it’s also what millennial workers want.  Millennials don’t want to be told what to do or restricted to a limited set of options when it comes to their benefits packages; they want the flexibility to make their own selections and the opportunity to make informed decisions.  In short, they want to be empowered healthcare consumers, just as they are empowered consumers in all other aspects of their lives.  Offering benefits programs that do just that will increasingly become a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining top talent.

Want to learn more about how you can control healthcare costs while empowering your employees to become informed healthcare consumers?  Check out Forrester’s latest guide, Managing The Healthcare Crisis!