Consumer / Employer

What Will Be 2023’s Biggest Challenge in the Employee Benefits Space? 4 Execs Weigh In

Uncertainty, benefits navigation, cost and innovation are some of the key challenges ahead for those in the employee health benefits space. Executives made these comments last week during the HLTH conference in Las Vegas.

Amid a mental health crisis and a possible recession, those in the employee health benefits space are bracing for several challenges ahead. Key among these challenges is uncertainty, one executive said.

“There is a lot of uncertainty out there right now with what the economic environment is going to look like, how the mental health crisis is going to play out,” said Cassidy Rouse, senior vice president of growth partnerships and corporate wellness at Peloton, an exercise company.

Rouse made these comments last week during a panel about employee wellness at the HLTH 2022 conference in Las Vegas. He said during this period of uncertainty, Peloton’s employer partners are going to need flexibility.

“They’re going to need to be really adaptable, they’re going to need options,” Rouse said. “They’re going to need partners that can work with them, that are data-driven, have lots of different types of content, lots of technology they can deploy, being across multiple platforms. You’re going to have to adapt over the next year or 18 months. We’re trying to be a lot more modular, a lot more technology-driven in how we deliver those solutions.”

Sohini Stone, chief medical officer for global employee health at Google, echoed Rouse’s comments.

“The biggest challenge is, in this world of uncertainty that Cassidy described, making sure we’re taking that opportunity to learn, be flexible and try some new things,” Stone said on the panel. “For example, we thought we’d be done with the pandemic, we didn’t know that we were going to have an economic crisis at the same time, and of course we are learning new ways of working. It’s really important for us to listen to our employees and the experiences they’re having, use that to learn and evolve the way that we’re creating that flexibility.”

During this period of innovation, employees are going to need help navigating their benefits. With so many different solutions entering the market when it comes to employee wellness, workers are struggling to find the best way to receive care, said Tiffany Miller, head of digital technology at Fidelity.

“There are so many great offerings that are coming to the forefront of all of this, but it’s getting increasingly more difficult for employees to actually be able to navigate from finding care to getting care all the way to actually paying for care,” Miller said. “We’ve got to start figuring out how to actually make this network a little more seamless and be able to provide folks the guidance and surface the right information at the right time so they can make better choices for themselves and their family.”

For Henry Ting, chief health officer of Delta Air Lines, the biggest challenges ahead are cost and innovation. 

“As a self-insured employer, at Delta Air Lines, we spend over a billion dollars on health, wellness and wellbeing, and we continue to make that investment,” Ting said. “Overseeing that budget and overseeing what we’re spending it on, I’m really coming back to, ‘What’s the value? What’s the value for our people, employees, dependents and customers from that spend?’ … Which brings me to the innovation piece. We’re not looking for incremental innovation. We need disruptive and radical innovation in this space to really reimagine and transform in the digital, technology, navigation space to create a better world for our people.”

That said, partnerships are vital in order to make change, Ting added.

“I don’t think there’s a single point solution or a single stakeholder that is going to get us there,” he said.

Photo: VectorInspiration, Getty Images