What benefits do employees want in the new year? Employees want benefits that support employees’ diverse needs like transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, fertility assistance and pet perks.

Over 30 percent of employers increased their benefits in 2018, according to research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a trend likely to carry over into 2019 as employers continue to wrestle with low unemployment.

Healthcare benefits have been a hot topic this year, but healthcare regulation is in flux and as costs soar across the board, cost-management has become a priority. According to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), employers are looking to solutions like telemedicine, nurse advice lines and healthcare claims utilization analysis to help rein in expenses. Wellness programs that help employees improve physical, emotional and financial health have also skyrocketed in popularity as another way to manage burgeoning healthcare costs.

New healthcare benefits are going to be equally important in 2019. Employees have a wide range of needs and company culture/inclusivity are factors that future candidates are likely to take into consideration when evaluating job offers.

Employers have started to meet the demand for diversified healthcare benefits. The IFEBP found nearly 30 percent of employers now offer transgender-inclusive benefits, like coverage of sex-reassignment surgery or subsidies for cosmetic procedures, such as electrolysis, mastectomy and Adam’s apple reduction surgery. Employers are also adding more fertility benefits. Close to 20 percent of companies offer financial assistance for adoptions, egg harvesting/freezing, fertility treatments and counseling.

Another big benefits trend in 2018 that’s likely to carry over into 2019 is the rise of pet perks. SHRM found nearly 10 percent of organizations now allow pets at work or offer pet health insurance. Some companies have gone as far as offering paid time off or the flexibility to work from home for employees who adopt a pet, referred to affectionately as ‘paw-ternity leave.’

While healthcare cost-management and benefits inclusivity are industry trends likely to see more growth in 2019, that doesn’t mean they automatically make the most sense for every employer. Employee benefits engagement is difficult and under-utilization is often an issue employers need to strategically tackle. Including employees in the benefits selection process, whether it be through polls or surveys or direct employee involvement in meetings, will help employers offer benefits that make the most meaningful impact in the lives of their employees.