Workplace Trends Employers Should Consider in 2016

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Each fall, the FirstPerson Team gets together to key identify workplace trends we see emerging in the coming year. Benefits is an ever-changing field and engaging employees among various generations is challenging to many employers.

So we're dubbing 2016 the Year of the Employee. The year to really think about your people strategy and how it connects to your overall business strategy. The following workplace trends reflect this change in mindset we're expect to see over the next twelve months.

“Playing” a strategic health care game

With an uncertain and volatile market, simply offering a quality health plan isn’t a sustainable business strategy long term. Employers will have to think differently about how to best “play” the post-Affordable Care Act health care game. The most successful employers will be armed and ready with a business and people strategy that creates innovation in the face of change.

Venti house blend, please

First it was the Boomers, then GenX, and let’s not forget the Millennials. Over the last couple decades, employers have scrambled to accommodate the workplace desires of different generations. Now, smart employers will realize they can’t narrow their focus to one group but, instead, need to create a culture that embraces, encourages, and gets the best from all generations.

Meeting people where they are

Even when most employers offered multiple benefit plans, there was still a one-size-fits-all mentality. Plan options focused more on what was wanted rather than what was needed in a particular life stage. Look for this to begin shifting, as the “life stages” approach common to 401(k) portfolios seep into the benefits world.

Numbers tell a story, people are the story

Once upon a time, employers wished they had data about how their employees use their benefits. Now they’ve got all the data they want and more … but most haven’t invested in the tools to track employee engagement. In 2016, we’ll see employers looking to tell a more holistic story with their numbers, which will guide their people strategy and move the business forward.

You had me at ‘Hello’

You only get one chance to make a first impression … or to onboard an employee. Bad impressions made on the first day of a working relationship can linger and lead to a sooner-than-expected last day. We expect employers to put an increase emphasis on the onboarding process, using it to show newbies what the culture is all about and helping to make Day One feel like the beginning of a long relationship – not just the start of a new job.

Turning the brand outside-in

Businesses have heard the brand message loud and clear. As a result, they’ve branded just about everything they do … except the experience they build employees. Oh, sure, some firms have branded benefit plans or wellness program, but in the coming year we’ll see their focus turn to the big picture and investment in branding the entire employee experience.

Don’t push me; guide me

In the ongoing effort to make employees better healthcare consumers, employers will need to do more to equip employees to be satisfied consumers. This year, we’ll see new energy guiding employees to on-site, near-site, and tele-medicine options, connecting them to online tools that make the marketplace more transparent, and helping them make sense of the ever-evolving and clashing worlds of health care and technology. The result? Increased loyalty from appreciative employees.

Together, these trends drive home the importance of a well-executed benefits strategy in combination with a solid people strategy and effective internal branding and communication. While this looks different depending on your business, they're integral to a successful business strategy.

Bryan Brenner is founder and CEO of Indianapolis-based FirstPerson.

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