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July 1, 2021

Employee benefit trends 2021–2022

Todays employers are providing their employees with more flexible and personalized benefit options. These options are addressing mental, emotional, and financial health while offering personalized support such as cancer-focused services for those who have received a diagnosis.

We’re facing something of a reset as more U.S. employees return to work or operate in a hybrid model combining an onsite and remote presence. According to a recent Harvard Business School study, only 18% of employees want to return to the office full-time, 27% want to work remotely permanently, and more than 60% want a combination of both.1 Here are employee benefit trends we’re observing that will likely impact employers and employees for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.

Flexible options

The year 2021 demonstrated how quickly events beyond our control can greatly affect our personal and professional lives, and that the only way to adapt is to be flexible. Employees are likewise seeking greater flexibility in their benefit offerings, such as flexible working hours for their childcare needs, vacation carryover or paid time off (PTO), and both onsite and remote working options.2

Mental, emotional, and financial health 

Fortunately, employers today are more culturally aware of the importance of maintaining their workforces mental and emotional health. The 12th Annual Employer-Sponsored Health & Well-Being Survey from Fidelity Investments and the nonprofit Business Group on Health (BGH) noted that 92% of large and midsize U.S.-based national and multinational companies expanded their programs that address stress management, sleep improvement and resiliency, and mental health for dependent children.3

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown, layoffs, and furloughs significantly impacted employees, and they continue to feel this impact despite the encouraging job reports—with nonfarm jobs increasing by 850,000 in June vs. the estimated 706,000.4 As a result, providers are now offering financial health benefits such as coaching, budgeting and savings tools, and financial advising and planning, along with emergency savings programs and student loan repayment assistance.5

Back to basics

The more things change, the more they remain the same. According to The Hartford’s 2021 Future of Benefits Study, taken one year after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 84% of U.S. workers say they value bedrock benefits offered by employers, such as life and disability insurance, and voluntary benefits such as hospital indemnity and critical illness insurance, which provide additional coverage for medical emergencies such as heart attack, stroke, or cancer.6

Personalized support for employees with cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), four out of every 10 people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer. By 2040, the number of cancer survivors is expected to reach nearly 30 million—a 50% increase from last year.7

Given the ongoing diagnoses and growing survivorship, as well as the critical need to reduce cancer health disparities to achieve greater health equity,8 employers will increasingly gear programs toward those with cancer—with more personalized features—that can significantly improve their quality of life.   

Learn more about cancer-focused benefits that democratize renowned expertise to employers and their employees with cancer across the country.


1 Most professionals excelled while working from home. Harvard Business School Online. Updated March 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021.

2 Miller S. Benefits added during the pandemic likely to remain. June 9, 2021. SHRM. Accessed July 7, 2021.

3 New well-being research from fidelity and Business Group on Health finds increasing support for work/life balance and mental/emotional health [news release]. Boston, MA: Fidelity Investments; June 9, 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021.

4 Employment situation summary [news release]. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; July 2, 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021.

5 Marwitz J. 3 employee benefits trends for 2021’s 'next normal.' Benefits PRO. April 16, 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021.

6 The Hartford. The Hartford's 2021 Future of Benefits Study Report. Published 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021.  

7 National Cancer Institute. Cancer statistics. National Institutes of Health Web site. Updated September 25, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2021.

8 Advancing health equity – Addressing cancer disparities. American Cancer Society Web site. Accessed July 10, 2021.  



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