1. Garnering news coverage
Amplify your non-profit in 2017 by increasing brand awareness and news coverage! The Fundraising Authority identifies staying in regular contact with reporters as a great way to boost news coverage.
Another strategy is to educate your organization’s leaders and staff about the power of social media. When news and content created by or about your non-profit is more visible through mediums, like social media, it creates buzz that attracts journalists to what your non-profit is doing in 2017.
2. Taking control of pharmacy benefits
Rising drug prices have been the subject of controversy for years. While health-care spending in the U.S. is growing faster than the economy, pharmaceutical costs are growing faster still. The annual cost of employer-sponsored health care for an American family of four rose 84%, to almost $25,000, over the decade ended in 2015. Drug costs are 16% of the total, a smaller piece than either hospitals or doctors. But the cost of drugs has risen faster than any other health-care expense. It’s up 102% over the same decade. Last year alone, it spiked 14%.
As drug prices have risen throughout the past several years, human resource benefit experts worry that health-care inflation will force their companies to roll back benefits. Unhappy with the health-care status quo, companies are setting a goal of making prescriptions more affordable for their employees. By taking control of their pharmacy-benefit programs, non-profits are able to eliminate many of the hidden financial offerings. This move to “transparent” arrangements, where the PBM mainly receive administrative fees, is consistent with what the industry has been doing for years with medical benefits.
For more about 2017 trends in pharmacy benefits, watch SBG’s webinar on-demand right here.
Regardless of the pricing style, the most important aspect of any PBM program, is that employers get a clean, measurable and auditable agreement. (See #5 – Compliance and audits for more!)
3. ACA uncertainty
With president-elect Donald Trump soon to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, there is much up in the air, not least of which is the future of the Affordable Care Act. But, no matter what policies are implemented or repealed under the next administration, one thing won’t change: the majority of Americans — currently 57% of the U.S. population under age 65, or about 154 million people will still receive health coverage through an employer.
Until any real changes to the ACA are passed, the safest course of action is to continue to fulfill the ACA obligations as they stand today. We don’t know just yet what healthcare reform will look like in 2017, but we do know that change will take some time.
Read our November report: Things Employers Should Consider Post-Election. By keeping abreast of these likely changes and taking specific steps, employers can ensure they are ready when Trump rolls out his healthcare plan.
4. Millennials in the workplace
With the millennial generation entering the workplace, the benefits landscape is changing. The millennial workforce is 75.4 million strong and composes one third of the US workforce. And that number will continue to grow. 
In order to attract and engage millennials about their benefits options and drive participation, HR leaders need to be deliberate about what information is sent to employees, how it is delivered and why they should care. Some examples are:
- Benefits that are focused on the millennial life stage. Traditional companies such as IKEA, Ernst & Young, and American Express are following innovative technology companies and are now offering paid parental leave to both parents, as well as adoptive and foster parents.
- The old days of the typical 9-5 job are not sought after by the millennial generation. Flexibility reigns supreme, as the younger workforce is making demands for it, and today’s jobs are becoming more reflective of that. Telework and career development opportunities are important to the work-life integration.
- Is there an app for that? Technology from initial recruitment through ongoing employee engagement is critical to employee engagement.
By getting creative with company culture, benefits and the use of technology to engage millennials, employers will have the best chance of attracting and retaining the workforce of the future.
5. Compliance and audits
One of the most challenging aspects of employee benefits is meeting and maintaining compliance with evolving federal and state laws and regulations, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Until the ACA is amended, repealed, or replaced, employers need to continue to understand and comply with the requirements and deadlines enacted, such as Summaries of Benefits and Coverage (SBCs) and employer shared responsibility reporting (aka ESRR or Forms 1095-B and C).
A new presidential administration often precipitates tax reform. (See What to expect when you’re expecting tax reform in the first year.) This year, elements that could affect employer sponsored benefits include proposed caps on the tax preference for employer health benefits, limits on the tax preference for retirement plan savings and employer contributions, and expanded health savings accounts.
Even though the fate of the proposed FLSA changes is uncertain, it’s still imperative that employers determine who in their workforce could be impacted by the overtime rules, as well as evaluate your States specific laws.
6. Financial wellness programs
Wellness programs — and the idea that investing in employees’ social, mental and physical health can deliver solid returns — have been a well-established talent acquisition and retention pillar for quite some time. As wellness continues to evolve from simply a health focus to incorporating a financial focus, many employers are considering how they can implement a financial wellness program that will be beneficial to their employees and cost-effective for their business.
Tip: Incorporate financial wellness program into an existing benefits offering.
Two-thirds of employers with financial wellness programs say theirs are either highly integrated or mostly integrated with other retirement or health and wellness offerings.
For employers, financial wellness programs that help workers to reduce—or at least better handle—stress about money and debt is a way to improve physical and mental health, lower absenteeism and turnover, and raise productivity.
7. Customization of benefits
Whenever anyone talks about future trends the term “technology” seems to be a staple. The move toward customizing employee benefits has technological undertones as well. Creative benefits can attract and retain desirable employees, noted Claire Bissot, HR consulting manager at CBIZ, a provider of business services in Roanoke, VA. But “benefits can often become confusing or imbalanced if what’s offered doesn’t match people’s needs. Consider your environment and understand the benefits that will have the most positive effect,” she advised.
By offering the right technology platform to customize and communicate options, employers can do a better job of delivering benefits to their employees, and help the employees find the health plan and other benefits that best suits them. Employees can also take full advantage of the benefits they do select, creating greater satisfaction and goodwill between employers and their employees.
8. Technology continues to open up new possibilities
Continued innovation in online offerings and technologies have been very helpful in recruiting and automating services such as online benefits. We continue to see a lot more employers, even small- and middle-market companies, looking to leverage technology solutions to stream line the HR processes.
This is leading into the evolution of the technology “deep dive” in employee data. There is typically a wide variance in how employers plan the components of their benefits and communication strategies. With the right analytics, HR is moving towards a competitive advantage in providing truly comprehensive, proactive, and holistic approach to benefits. Key areas of application in HR data analysis include:
- Rationalizing and managing your spend on compensation and benefits
- Tailoring total rewards to drive talent engagement and productivity
- Enhancing the employee value proposition
- Facilitating effective integration of mergers or business units
9. Data Security
What is your biggest risk to employee data security? It could be your employees. According to an IBM cyber security report, 95 percent of organizational security breaches at least in some way involve employee error. The report highlights “phishing, system misconfiguration, poor patch management, the use of default user names and passwords — or using poor passwords — as well as lost laptops or mobile devices” as the major reasons for breaches. Knowing this surprising information about employee data security can highlight an area for 2017 HR initiatives.
At the end of 2016, SBG developed a trend report of recent and ongoing tendencies that determine or contribute to the success of the fundraising campaigns conducted by non-profits. The questions SBG set out to answer and the corresponding trends are outlined below:
How do people donate?
Trend: New technology in donations
Who is donating?
Trend: Women are generous with charitable gifts
When are they donating?
Trend: Eleventh hour donations
How to capture the next generation of income-earners?
Trend: Millennials will race to give!
To understand each of these trends and get more information on fundraising opportunities and best practices, check out the complete trend report here.
Have a question? Ask John Pfenning! And sign up for the SBG newsletter, so you don’t miss any of these educational updates, tips, and ideas to make your non-profit the best it can be!
If you missed any of our most-read reports of 2016, check them out now:
For further reference: