It’s THAT time of year, and the Talking Benefits pod squad is keeping up with our annual tradition of reviewing the top benefit trends of the year. We identified six big benefits trends that shaped our industry in 2023, and they are not likely going anywhere as we look to the year ahead. The six trends are:

  • GLP-1 drugs for diabetes treatment

Throughout 2023, there was a lot of attention focused on prescription drugs for obesity, the class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide 1 drugs, or GLP-1s. The discussion is around patients using GLP-1 drugs (like Ozempic) off-label for weight loss.

When we consider the early indications of effectiveness and employee demand, organizations are trying to get a better understanding of the effectiveness and cost control mechanisms in place to manage the use and cost of these drugs. A big question in 2024—Will prices come down because of marketing competition? Time will tell.

  • Flexible work benefits

Flexible work benefits have been trending for a while now, especially since the pandemic. These benefits are what workers want and an important way organizations can support employees at every stage. Employers are starting to provide benefits like referral services for child or elder care.

The four-day workweek really made a splash in 2023, and while it’s a trend we’re watching, most employers, even if interested, are struggling to figure out how to make this structure a reality while trying to meet business operation goals.

  • Family forming benefits

Family forming benefits were a series of offerings that received increased attention in 2023, including fertility, surrogacy, adoption, and paid and unpaid family leaves. More employers are offering at least one benefit related to fertility. Another area we’re seeing growth in is surrogacy. While many different families consider surrogacy for different reasons, it is the only biological pathway to parenting for some LGBTQ+/queer couples or individuals.

We also discussed designing an effective family-forming benefit strategy that can retain valuable workers, recruit outside talent and emphasize inclusivity.

  • Mental health

Mental health itself is not a trend—It’s a topic we’ve focused on a lot, and this episode just scratched the surface on a couple key topics surrounding mental health, including stigma. Certainly stigma is still present, but workers seem to be a little bit more comfortable discussing their challenges, especially with trusted coworkers. Employers should consider giving supervisors training on how to recognize and deal with workers who are facing challenges through either QPR or Mental Health First Aid.

We also discussed the shortage in providers and options for employees, the importance of organizational culture in making employees feel like they belong and are valued, and ways to support whole-person well-being for workers.

  • Menopause support

Destigmatizing menopause has been a hot topic in 2023 and is a trend that will continue in the years ahead. Within recent years, it’s involved increasing awareness in the workplace about the menopause transition, the symptoms, and the effects those symptoms can have on work and quality of life. 

Some employers are starting by offering education that defines menopause, raising awareness of symptoms and helping to reduce stigma. Further steps include reviewing benefit offerings, like flexible work time and paid or unpaid time off as well as seeking employee feedback.

  • Inflation and rising cost of living

Inflation and the rising cost of living has impacted the financial and mental health of workers this year. Employers can offer a wide variety of benefits that can help combat some of the impact, including dependent care flexible spending accounts, emergency savings accounts sponsored by organizations, educational assistance programs, and tools for retirement planning and credit counseling.

Give this episode a listen if you’d like to learn more about these six trends, get into some benchmarking data and greet your desk in 2024 feeling a little more prepared.  

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Anne Patterson

Associate Director, PR and Communications Favorite Foundation Product: Foundation Community. It’s like LinkedIn but only for Foundation members. They can post questions, share best practices, etc—all with fellow members who also live and breathe employee benefits. Benefits-related Topics That Interest Her Most: Mental health, diversity, equity and inclusion, behavioral decision making, family-forming benefits, payroll audits. Personal Insight: When she’s not busy keeping up with her two little ones, Anne finds joy in home renovation and décor, haiku writing, watching Jeopardy, crafting charcuterie boards, and bicycling.

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