As a new decade takes shape, companies will be looking at new technologies and trends to keep up with the changing HR market. In this article, we look at five trends Neil Vaswani, CEO and Co-Founder of Corestream predicts will take center stage in the voluntary benefits space in 2020.

In 2019, we’ve seen voluntary benefits like pet insurance and student loan refinancing grow more popular and I believe that trend will accelerate as we begin the next decade, especially as millennial and Gen Z employees continue to upend the workforce.

Below are five trends I believe will be at the forefront of the very dynamic voluntary benefits industry in 2020.

1. It’ll be about the money (as usual). The state of the economy will be front and center, especially as we go into a presidential election year. Voluntary employee benefits with a financial focus will become increasingly popular as individuals seek to strengthen their financial condition. The cost of public college rises each year, and unfortunately, student loan debt is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. According to debt.org, total student loan debt today is an estimated $1.4 trillion – and that only keeps rising. For many employees, low-cost loans and student loan refinancing options are voluntary benefits that provide great relief. Their offerings enable employees to access liquidity and cash, allowing them to avoid alternatives like predatory lending vehicles.

2. Pets will likely be family in more ways than one. With more millennials choosing to raise pets than have children, pet insurance will climb as one of the most popular and widely requested voluntary benefits in 2020. In fact, a recent study from Global Market Insights shows the pet insurance market value will likely hit $10 billion by 2025. The reason for this? If your pet gets into an accident or acquires a severe illness, pet insurance could mean the difference between a $600 bill and a $7,000 bill.

3. The Amazon model is coming for benefits too. As benefits are increasingly offered in an eCommerce or online marketplace model, more insurance brokers will work with HR tech platforms to dodge disintermediation and better serve their client companies. Brokers and tech platforms working together creates a win-win scenario and here’s why: Introducing more products gives employees more options and better access to a vast array of benefits while simultaneously creating more revenue for the broker. Employees, especially millennials and Gen Z, are tech-savvy and very resourceful when it comes to finding information and making decisions. The idea of a marketplace for benefits, where employees have the information and freedom to choose plans personalized for their lifestyles, will become part of the HR process in a bigger way very soon.

4. We’ll see the “human” put back in HR. Employers, especially at the executive level, will realize the value of greater employee engagement. HR – not “employee comms” – will become the leading source and channel for this increased engagement. Transparency and frequency is going to be very important in 2020 for employees to feel comfortable communicating with HR about anything, including benefits.

Learn More: The Elusive ROI of Financial Wellness

5. Benefits will be one way employers show they “get” their employees. More and more employers will experiment with different benefit strategies to create a more holistic experience for employees that goes beyond their medical wellbeing, offering so-called lifestyle benefits to demonstrate an understanding of the employee’s needs inside and outside the workplace. The unemployment rate has dipped to 3.5%, matching a half-century low. With today’s workforce more empowered than ever, the need to show support for the employee makes a big difference in the ability to attract and retain top talent.

In 2020, the variety of voluntary benefits will continue to rise alongside increasing adoption rates. Student loan support, long-term care, financial coaching, pet insurance, and other lifestyle benefits will take the lead as “most requested.” With historically low unemployment and the expectations different generations have of their employers, we know that a more holistic approach to meeting employee needs will be required and voluntary employee benefits are an effective way to meet that need.

By Neil Vaswani Co-founder and CEO, Corestream

This article originally appeared at https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/compensation-benefits/new-decade-new-trends-top-hr-predictions-for-2020/