Between changes in the ACA and shifting demographics in the workplace, benefit policies have become an increasingly complex part of HR leadership. Many HR leaders are charged with adjusting to new affordability calculations, preparing for the needs of millennial employees and considering flex time, wellness and other popular benefit offerings.

As you look toward 2017, we've curated a list of six must-read articles on benefits.

1. "4 Benefit Plan Adjustments to Help Employers Maintain Affordability"

It's hard to address benefit policies without acknowledging the cost burden for employers. While the ADP Research Institute® report, Annual Health Benefits Report: 2016 Benchmarks and Trends for Large Organizations, found modest cost increases between 2014 and 2016, this is likely due to aggressive cost management by HR leaders. This article explores four common but effective ways large firms have made important plan adjustments.

2. "Health Care Plan Considerations for Midsized Businesses"

For midsized business owners, creating improved health plan offerings can be a smart tool for attracting and retaining talent. For firms with between 50 or more employees, the ACA has significantly complicated compliance. This article covers important questions to evaluate when addressing your health plans, as well as factors to consider before expanding your current benefits mix.

3. "Employee Health and Wellness: What the Healthiest Employers Do Differently"

This data-driven exploration of wellness programs dives into exactly which benefits your employees want from your health offerings. It also examines which specific attributes — from health screenings to accessibility — are correlated with high returns on wellness programs.

4. "Rising Health Care Costs: 4 Ways to Prepare for Changing Millennial Demographics"

As the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, millennials are having a major impact on more than just benefits. This article looks at the intersection of millennials and health care offerings. It lets HR leaders know about preparing for seismic shifts in spousal or dependent coverage, the importance of wellness plans and millennial-friendly ways to offer plan selection options.

5. "4 Popular Flex Time Strategies Making a Global Impact"

The future of work looks like remote work, flexible schedules and other manifestations of flex time. According to the ADP Research Institute® report, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workforce, 95 percent of employees believe they'll be able to work from anywhere in the world sooner than later. This piece highlights what happened when four major employers offered employees better work-life balance.

6. "ACA Provision for Young Adults: How to Prepare for Delayed Enrollments"

According to the ADP Research Institute® report, Annual Health Benefits Report: 2016 Benchmarks and Trends for Large Organizations, there have been remarkably low rates of participation in employer-sponsored health plans. This could be correlated with the ACA's provision that allows individuals to remain on their parent's plans until age 26. Discover how HR leaders can ease the burden of a wave of new enrollments each year as individuals lose coverage eligibility under their parents, from HCM technologies to forecasting techniques.

There's no right benefits mix or one-size-fits-all for benefit policies. HR leaders are tasked with balancing compliance, affordability and employee needs to create a strategy that will act as a tool for recruitment, retention and other areas of concern. With smart data, HCM techniques and other tools, HR leaders can strive to optimize employee happiness and health while maintaining compliance.

Want to learn more about 2017's HR trends? See below for the other articles in our #HR2017 series:

#HR2017: Can't Miss Info About the FMLA

#HR2017: Don't Be Fooled By the Cost of the ACA This Year

#HR2017: What Last Year Taught Us About the ACA

#HR2017: Top Innovation Trends Coming This Year

#HR2017: Help Your Employees Achieve Their Health and Wellness Resolutions

#HR2017: What's on the Horizon for Workplace Flexibility in the Coming Year?

#HR2017: Job Growth Patterns from 2016 Inform 2017's Outlook

#HR2017: Talent Acquisition Trends for 2017 — Tips to Attract Rock Stars