Your employees are increasingly marketed and sold to in ways that were not imaginable even 20 years ago. Between the synthetic credit offered through mortgage equity loans (thankfully more of a historical artifact today) to increasingly micro targeted and segmented advertising campaigns with armies of psychological research and testers to support, individuals are under more pressure to spend than ever before.
All the while, the components of your wages to your workers has shifted. Long gone is the security of knowing that the employer pension and government’s social security program would suffice for all retirement needs. Instead, the pension is a user-directed 401(k). And underneath this is the rising cost of health care, at 2-3x the rate of inflation, which has over the past ten years eroded wages such that on an adjusted basis we make less this decade than we did in the prior one. This trend is expected to continue.
While we live in an age of individualism and self-determination, we must also recognize that there is technology that can assist us in making sense of an increasingly complex environment. This technology can, for the first time, explain which benefits you should sign up for and why, make sense of those benefits in the context of my 24/7 transactional life, and provide the security of knowing that you have made the right decision. From an employer’s perspective, financially secure employees tend to be better consumers of all benefits and more stable employees – less turnover, absenteeism, and other maladaptive behavior.
While the state of technology will continue to evolve, so will the tools and applications to help employees make sense of it all. It is the mission, and perhaps even mandate, of the HR department to review and project the needs of their employees, and subsequently bring together the needs of the organization with the needs of the individual.