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The Future of Employee Benefits

Dr. Greg Ketchum, KRON, 9/27/07

We all know that change is the only constant in our modern world and that is certainly true in the workplace. Business Week recently ran a cover story entitled “The Future of Work” that examined the emerging winds of change in the workplace. One of the areas where we’re likely to see rapid change is in the area of employee benefits.

What’s really driving the change in benefits that employers offer?

Several factors are driving how employers choose benefits to offer employees:

  1. Looming Retirement of the Baby Boom Generation: As we’ve discussed before, as the Boomers retire the competition for new talent will heat up. Employers are starting to rely more on the benefits they offer to attract and retain talent.
  1. The Changing Nature of the Workforce: We now have a very diverse workforce with Boomers, Gen X and Y, EchoBoomers, women and foreign workers. What one group sees as a benefit isn’t necessarily a benefit to another.

What are some of the emerging trends in employee benefits?

Increased Efforts to Retain Women in the Workforce: Women now receive more than half of all college and graduate degrees. More employers are starting to “redesign career paths, jobs, and workplaces to get women to stick around once they start having children.” BusinessWeek, August 20 & 27, 2007.

  1. Increased Efforts to Lure Workers Back Into the Office: “With more people equipped to work from home, companies will be falling over themselves to lure workers back to their cubicles.” BusinessWeek, August 20 & 27, 2007. Expect to see perks like nap stations, game rooms, and media lounges.
  1. It’s About What You Deliver, Not How Many Hours You Put In: As more companies move in the direction of focusing on what you deliver rather than how many hours you put in we’ll see the disappearance of costly time-keeping policies. Companies like Best Buy and Netflix already offer variations of unlimited time off. “Employees are free to work wherever they want, whenever they want, so long as the work gets done.” BusinessWeek, August 20 & 27, 2007.

It seems like the potential for chaos and slacking off are pretty high with an unlimited time off plan.

Certainly the potential is there so these programs have to be carefully thought through and well designed. However, I can tell you, when employers look at resumes that we send over in our recruiting business they are looking specifically for what you actually delivered in your previous jobs, rather than at a list of activities you performed.

Are there any other emerging trends in employee benefits?

  1. Wellness Program and the Benefits of Being Fit: Look for more employers to offer wellness programs and to take an active interest in how fit you are. Expect to see more price breaks on healthcare costs for fit employees and penalties for those who aren’t.


®2007 All rights reserved. Gregory A. Ketchum, Ph.D.

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Dr. Greg is the “KRON 4 (San Francisco) Workplace and Career Expert”

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