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The state of employee benefits - and more - from SPARK 2022

Posted July 20, 2022


The Great Resignation. Employee wellness. Inflation and financial concerns. The benefits space has experienced a swift transformation over the last couple years, which requires a recalibration of what is top of mind for human resources teams and benefits professionals. On our latest episode of our Benefits Buzz podcast, we wanted to share with you some of the trends and challenges we're seeing in this space from our WEX SPARK 2022 panel on May 16, 2022 in Hollywood, Fla. The panelists were: 

  • Melanie Tinto, chief human resources officer, WEX
  • Christa Guzzo, vice president, account executive, Aon
  • Jennifer McClure, chief excitement officer, DisruptHR

Value of choice

The value of “choice” in your employee benefits package was one of the underlying themes during our panel. A recent study found that 7 out of 10 employees think it’s their employer’s responsibility to make sure they are financially well, but a benefit that works for one employee might not work for another. 

Some advice our panel shared was: 

  • The value of HSAs, but also the importance of offering flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), and more. Not all employees have access to an HSA-qualified health plan. And employees that do might still prefer traditional plans that aren’t HSA-eligible. 
  • Lifestyle spending account (LSA) adoption and participation is booming. And so is interest. We polled our SPARK audience and asked, “What is one benefit or topic you’re interested in seeing more content about?” LSA and wellness were the top two answers. 
  • Paid parental leave and family-planning benefits are also vitally important to employees who are reassessing their priorities during this time. 

Those who attended SPARK from May 16-18, 2022 in Hollywood, Fla., learned valuable insights, shared ideas, and listened to engaging keynote speakers. Here are a few highlights from this year’s event. 

Our new look and what it means to you

Earlier this year, WEX introduced a new logo and refreshed its brand. These visual changes are a reflection of a deeper transformation of connecting our fleet, benefits, corporate payments, and travel lines of businesses in our common mission of simplifying the business of running a business. 

Melissa Smith, chair and CEO of WEX, said at SPARK that these decisions were driven by conversations with our partners, customers, and employees. 

“We consistently heard that friction and complexity make it harder for businesses to achieve their goals,” Smith said. “We feel like we are uniquely positioned to help and can really lean into that central focus to make sure we’re simplifying the business of doing business.”  

Robert Deshaies, chief operating officer of Americas at WEX, said we’ve been hearing fleet customers ask how to better retain employees and benefits customers ask how to better manage the movement of money. Our recent changes allow us to better unify the thousands of WEX employees to work with you to develop the best experience through simplifying business. 

“We continue to have strong focus in our lines of business,” Deshaies said. “That’s one thing we want to continue to stress. But what we’ve found is a great way horizontally (across divisions) to get the best of WEX and deliver it to you.”  

SPARK 2022 highlights

Melissa Smith, chair and CEO of WEX, and Robert Deshaies, chief operating officer of Americas at WEX, share their perspective on recent brand changes and what's to come during SPARK 2022.

Benefits trends and investments

The last couple years have called attention to whether Americans have enough saved for retirement, and the importance of striking that balance between health and wealth. Deshaies cited a recent EBRI/Greenwald Research study that revealed that 1 in 3 employees don’t feel they have enough savings to handle an emergency. 

Deshaies shared some of the swift changes and emerging trends we’ve seen in employee benefits in the last year. Two key trends Deshaies shared were: 

  • Steady growth in health savings account (HSA) and high-deductible health plan (HDHP) participation. Devenir’s 2021 year-end HSA report stated that HSA assets had increased 19% year-over-year, while the number of accounts increased 8%. 
  • Data and analytics are playing a key role in helping partners grow their business and employers increase participation. We recently released a pilot campaign called consumer pathways, which provides HSA participants with personalized messaging to help them get more out of their accounts. 

“We want you to feel like … the confidence level is way up here,” Deshaies said. “When we work with WEX, we don’t have to worry. We don’t need a backup, because we know they’re there.”

Are you up to date with the latest benefits trends? Check out more 2022 benefits trends here!

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