2021 Benefits Trends So Far

As the second half of 2021 begins, it is important to look at the benefits industry trends that have emerged thus far. Acknowledging and responding to these trends can help you recruit and retain talented employees and help you position yourself for a more productive 2022. According to Harvard Business Review:

Trend 1: Mental Health

Across the last several years, employers have offered new benefits to support their employees, for instance, expanded parental leave. Even before the pandemic, Gartner research revealed that 45% of well-being budget increases were being allocated to mental and emotional well-being programs. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought well-being to the forefront as employers are more aware than ever how of the impact of mental health on employees and by association, the workplace.

By late March, 68% of organizations had introduced at least one new wellness benefit to aid employees during the pandemic. In 2021, employers will go even further by working to de-stigmatize mental health by expanding mental health benefits, creating days where they shut the entire company down for a day to offer “a collective mental health day” to build awareness across the workforce about this critical issue.

Trend 2: Working from Home

After the pandemic hit there was a shift in the workplace with a major impact on employee benefits trends. Companies had their employees remotely working from home. While some employees are glad to be working from home because they have had to cut down on some significant costs, employees who have small children cannot say the same. Although most companies have opened their offices, due to the social distancing rule they cannot have all their employees come in to work. Therefore, some employees work from the office and others work from home.

One of the employee benefits trends to watch is that some companies have incorporated zoom work out sessions for their employees so they can all feel connected. However, with free snacks, lunches, and on-site gyms out of the picture employers have to think of what benefits will replace these since their employees are now working from home. Some employers are introducing stipends for employees working from home. Employers also have to consider parents working from home and offer them caregiving support so they can be productive and focus on work.

Trend 3: Covid Vaccine

Employers that provide the Covid vaccine to their workforce will leverage this action as a key differentiator to attract and retain talent. In tandem with employers providing the vaccine, several companies will be sued for requiring their employees to have proof of vaccination before allowing them to return to the workplace. The corresponding litigation will slow return-to-workplace efforts even as vaccine usage increases.

Trend 4: Flexible Working

While enabling employees to work remotely became commonplace across 2020 (and will continue this year and beyond), the next wave of flexibility will be around when employees are expected to work.

Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey revealed that only 36% of employees were high performers at organizations with a standard 40-hour work week. Organizations that offer employees flexibility over when, where and how much they work, see 55% of their work force as high performers. In 2021, I expect to see a rise of new jobs where employees will be measured by their output, as opposed to an agreed-upon set of hours.


By being aware of these benefits trends, you can set yourself apart from your competitors and better position your company for recruiting and retention success. For further information on any of these topics, contact Pacific Group today.