Remember your first cell phone? Perhaps it was the old brick that looked like a World War II field communication telephone. Perhaps yours was the Motorola Flip Phone, which sold 130-million units after its global launch in 2004. Whatever version remembered fondly, those are likely not broken either. Yet, like horses used mainly for transport, consumers have moved on.

The problem is never the problem…The problem is not knowing how to think about the problem.

If we can agree that changing the methods of how we communicate—how we transport goods to both improve efficiency, as well offer a better reflection of future growth, does it not stand reason that a benefit plan developed to reflect the corporate philosophy will, at some point, have to upgrade?

This does not necessitate a change in the current provider, simply a better understanding of the design and what other “benefits” may be available for the ever-savvy and diverse workforce.

Remember, at the time, the Razr flip phone was one of the most iconic phones ever designed. Then Blackberry released the first prominent smartphone of its kind, specializing in secure communications. This moved the phone from simply providing voice communications to a mobile productivity center in the palm of the hand. A leader…until iPhone.

Now, in the 25-years since Tim Berners-Lee made the world-wide-web available to the public, more than half of the world’s population uses a smartphone, spending approximately $800 annually on either the phone, applications, music, video, etc. or combined. All to improve daily life.

Sometimes though, when it comes to benefits, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Next to no difference between one or the other. Has the cost of consumable goods not increased? Has the evolution of technology not broken through to include health services? Of course, they have. However, benefit plans continue down the archaic path of redundancy. Employers being unwilling to change a plan which “is not broken”, thinking this may mean a change in career, more work, equivalent to hassles better avoided.

Not so.

By not exploring the evolution of the benefit plan, employers leave themselves open to offering a program which no longer addresses the reality of their changing and diverse workforce. As a compensation strategy, benefits can be a tool to recruit and retain employees.

Consider what it would mean to overall productivity to implement a plan with increased flexibility, more choice, understanding compensation by today’s standards isn’t just pay. It’s salary, pension, benefits, and all investments, including training to represent the total rewards of employment.

Tragically though, only about 30% of companies today offer truly flexible plans.

Strategically an employer’s greatest competitive advantage is their people because productivity and innovation come from employees. Investing in these valuable assets means providing wellness programs focused to optimize work-life and encourage healthier lifestyles.

Numerous studies over the years have concluded comprehensive wellness programs have a significant return on investment for employers. A 2010 Harvard University meta-analysis of the literature on costs and savings associated with wellness programs found the return-on-investment on medical costs was $3.27 for every dollar spent.

Conclusion; though the benefit plan may not be broken, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need fixing.

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