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2023-2024 Aflac WorkForces Report: Is Customization the Answer to Rising Healthcare Costs?

Quick look: Aflac has released its 2023-2024 WorkForces Report which examines benefit trends and attitudes of thousands of employers and their employees. While increasing healthcare costs and claims remain a top concern, benefit customization through a PEO shows promise of putting SMBs on a positive trajectory.

The 2023-2024 Aflac WorkForces Report details valuable insights regarding the state of workplace benefits and how to handle the challenges workplaces of all sizes face today. However, there are specific obstacles hindering small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as they grow, which aren’t as applicable to larger companies with bigger budgets and more resources.

By delving into the research, brokers can better understand client pain points as they search for solutions in the new year. Here are a few of the small business statistics from Aflac’s 13th annual research survey, and how a professional employer organization (PEO) partner like ExtensisHR is advantageous in mitigating costs and providing immediate support.

Rising costs call for customized benefits

Inflation has caused everything to go up, including benefit costs and claims. The report reveals two-thirds of small businesses (fewer than 100 employees) acknowledge a cost increase, which has limited the ability to offer a more diverse range of benefits.

In a time when there are five generations active in the workplace, diversity matters. How then can SMBs compete with big businesses while also sticking to affordable solutions?

Fortunately, the answer isn’t always about adding more but rather doing the most with what’s available. And through ExtensisHR’s personalized PEO solution, SMBs receive comprehensive, cost-effective HR services and collaborative support.

This type of offering automatically pushes brokers ahead of the competition and boosts their overall value. With a PEO, SMB clients have access to Fortune 500-level benefits typically reserved for larger businesses. Plus, there is a team of HR experts dedicated to driving results in a way which complements other areas of company growth.

Mental health care continues to be top priority

74% of small businesses believe mental health coverage is as important as physical health coverage, if not more than. The level of burnout (57%) and workplace stress (74%) has detrimental effects on employees’ productivity, engagement, and overall attitude about work.

And one-quarter of SMB employees stated their personal mental health problems negatively affected their job performance in the past year.

Mental health care became a larger part of the conversation only a few years ago, which is why staying ahead of benefit trends has become increasingly important. A PEO partner can tailor specific tools and resources based on this type of employee feedback. In terms of mental health coverage, an effective option is providing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

An EAP provides confidential assistance regarding personal and professional challenges. Employees can speak directly to advisors and receive medical referrals, which could prevent smaller issues from growing into larger problems.

Supplemental benefits become a mainstay

Supplemental benefits have switched from a nice-to-have to a necessity with 9 in 10 employees wanting them as part of their plan. ExtensisHR partners with Aflac to offer a variety of services, including critical illness, hospital indemnity, and short-term disability.

However, other areas, such as financial and legal support, have become more commonplace as well. Financial stress has become a rising challenge for many workers. According to the findings, 56% of employees were negatively impacted by high medical bill costs. And 55% shared they have anxiety about healthcare costs beyond what their insurance covers.

These stressors permeate into other areas of life, such as missed credit card payments, negatively affected credit scores, and financial setbacks. This is one example as to why 73% of employers find offering supplement benefits vital to recruiting, and 76% say it’s necessary for retention. By pulling from a range of resources and connections, a PEO can determine the best possible benefit strategy to increase employee satisfaction.

Expanding how benefits are communicated

The benefits perception is skewed as 75% of SMB employers think employees understand costs well; while, only 42% of employees say they do. This may be why over half of employees appreciate having a benefits advisor at their disposal in order to provide explanation. Of this group, 50% prefer in-person meetings, and 42% prefer the option of speaking over the phone, which means diverse communication is key.

With many SMBs transitioning into a hybrid or dispersed workforce, switching up ways in which they share information is important. It makes it more easily accessible (and digestible) and personalizes the value of what’s being offered. With ExtensisHR’s people-first approach and proprietary HR technology, brokers can offer clients and their employees what they need, when they need it, to drive better benefit decisions.

Making impactful benefit decisions with a PEO

Establishing meaningful partnerships expands what’s available to SMBs. It helps them grow even during the most challenging of times. For brokers, working with a PEO partner like ExtensisHR immediately opens the door for other opportunities to offer their clients.

ExtensisHR offers a full-service, flexible HR solution, which can be tailored to meet a company’s specific needs. It goes beyond simply implementing benefit plans by becoming an instrumental part of the growth strategy. All elements of HR are managed by a dedicated team of experts, allowing SMB leaders to focus fully on other important areas of operation.

This includes:

  • HR administration and management
  • Payroll and tax solutions
  • Risk and compliance oversight
  • Recruiting services

…and more. A PEO solution positions SMBs to grow up to 9% faster and save 35% on HR administration costs.

As a broker-friendly PEO partner, learn how our services can extend your professional reach and build up your portfolio. SMBs have different strategies depending on where they are in their growth, as well as where their current employee population stands. ExtensisHR works closely with brokers and business leaders to work toward a collective goal.

Find out how we can support you. Contact our team of HR experts today.

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