Employment Trends & Employee Benefits: The US in 2019

The US unemployment rate rose to just 4.0% in December 2018, indicating continued pressure on employers to find talent. In addition to changing trends on the IT and tech sectors, the robust economy has created extreme difficulties in the trucking industry.

The US national unemployment rate rose to 4.0% in December 2018 with the addition of 304,000 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report. This represents a .1% increase from December 2017. The government shutdown accounted for an increase of 175,000 in temporary layoffs and part-time workers increased nearly 500,000. The total number of unemployed persons stands at 6.5 million, with less than 20% experiencing long-term unemployment.

These numbers indicate continued pressure on employers to find talent; though the tech sector continues to be one of the tightest job markets. According to a survey from Spiceworks, IT departments plan to expand in 2019 and 62% of IT professionals may change jobs to earn a higher salary. This may wreak havoc on many companies as they focus on expanding their skills, for they may lose seasoned veterans in the process.

An office meeting room with stairs, tables, chairs, a erase dry board standing on wheels, and surrounded by glass windows.

At the recent January 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, it was apparent that executives are struggling with the impact of artificial intelligence and workplace automation, according to a New York Times article. While they understand that investment and automation is critical for corporate growth, they also know that it may eliminate vast numbers of jobs at all levels. Repurposing and retraining will continuing to be on the minds of US business leaders as they embrace what has been dubbed by Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, the "Fourth Industrial Revolution."

IT and technology sectors are not the only ones impacted by rapidly changing trends. The robust economy has created extreme difficulties in the trucking industry. According to Transport Topics, trucking companies are now at 100% capacity and do not have enough truck drivers to support customer volume. As a result, they are increasing pay to attract new drivers and retain current employees. This trend is expected to continue throughout 2019, or as long as consumers demand goods from both here and abroad.

Each company must devise a strategy for attracting and retaining a productive workforce. Employee engagement is beneficial and critical long-term. According to Quantum Workplace, firms with high levels of employee engagement experience better employee health, higher productivity and worker safety, all of which contribute to a better bottom line.

One of the ways to increase employee engagement and their loyalty to the firm is to offer a robust benefits package. After compensation, benefits are a top reason why employees join or stay at an employer.

Once your recruiting team has been able to secure top talent, what is needed to retain them? Employers are offering creative benefit plans that include:

  • Healthy food delivery, available at the office for employees to grab and go.
  • Flexible work schedules, with an increasing number of work from home opportunities.
  • Increased parental leaves beyond current mandated limits.
  • Skill building opportunities that include online learning and "lunch and learn" conversations.
  • Tuition loan repayment assistance, of great value to new grads.
  • Executive physicals and personal trainers for leadership teams.

Consider the advantages of one new benefit offering: concierge healthcare. Under this program, patients are regarded as "clients," and receive not only top-notch healthcare but a high level of customer care you'd typically find at high-end retailers. This benefit includes access to primary care and specialists, with no wait appointments which revolve around the patient's schedule, not the doctor's availability.

According to an interview in Healthcare Finance News, concierge doctors charge an annual subscription of about $2,000. In return, the patient receives improved access, a deeper relationship with their doctor, and longer appointment times, which can lead to better care.

Innovative benefit packages are only limited by plan design creativity. The more you can support your employee's lifestyle and that of their dependents, the more likely they are to stay with you for the long-term.

Employee benefits are an investment in your workforce and need to be carefully selected and managed. Woodruff Sawyer is a key partner with emerging and long-standing firms that know the value of loyal employees and a stable workforce.

If your employee benefits are not up to par, contact us for advice on creating a program your employees will love––and so will your bottom line.

Woodruff Sawyer offers leading-edge business insurance brokerage services in property & casualty, management liability, cyber, employee benefits, and personal wealth management. We employ approximately 500 employees in 15 offices throughout the US, with over 600 partner offices worldwide.


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