Several recent articles run by Employee Benefit Adviser highlighted several trends that benefit decision makers need to consider as we head into 2015.  Below are some of the key takeaways from each installment.  You can also click on the headings to read the full article on each topic.

Health Care

With health care reform measures still rolling out, employers are shifting away from viewing health care benefits as the sole piece of their benefits puzzle.  Instead, they’re looking more at the entire benefits package, with aspects like wellness moving front and center.  Another big focus is finding ways to reduce employers’ health care spending before the Cadillac Tax is implemented in 2018.

Common strategies include the implementation of wellness programs to improve employee health, consumer-directed health plans that shift the task of looking for cheaper options onto the employees, cost transparency tools to help employees do just that, direct contracting networks to hold heath care providers accountable, spousal surcharges to increase cost-sharing, and increased scrutiny of private exchanges.

Retirement

Experts expect a renewed focus on retirement benefits in 2015, now that employers are finally starting to figure out the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act.  With more time to devote to retirement plans, employers can begin to educate their employees about the options available to them.

There will likely be a simplification of a lot of 401k plans, with fewer options available, as well as more emphasis on retirement readiness.  You’ll also likely see more companies using communication tools like mobile apps to help make retirement education and options more accessible for employees.

Wellness

Wellness initiatives will most likely be affected by the outcomes of several lawsuits filed by the EEOC against companies they say violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act by penalizing employees who didn’t participate in wellness screenings.

Regardless, though, employers still see the benefit to this important piece of their overall offerings as 93% indicate they intend to increase or maintain their current allocations toward wellness programming.

Voluntary Benefits

Voluntary benefits are one category that has grown drastically in recent years, and experts think that trend will only increase now that employers are starting to get a good understanding of the health care reforms.  Of particular interest are the coverages related to health, such as disability, dental, vision, critical illness, and accident.

As they grow more accustomed to the changes, employers are expected to take a closer look at the benefits they offer and how they’re offering them.  Consumer marketing trends like life event marketing and life cycle marketing may have implications for the employee benefits world.

Attraction and Retention

With the high turnover most businesses have seen in recent years, improving attraction and retention will be a key goal for employers in 2015.  Not surprisingly salary and advancement opportunities continue to rank high on employees’ list of importance.  However, a recent survey indicated trust and confidence in upper leadership was third on many workers’ list.

Is your company prepared to tackle these and other tough HR issues in 2015?