Organizations are expanding the scope of their benefits offerings to attract and retain top talent.
By Marta Chmielowicz
Faced with increased competition for talent and a diverse labor pool, organizations are pressured to provide benefits programs that meet the needs of all their workers. While health and retirement benefits are still the norm, SHRM’s 2019 Employee Benefits survey reveals that today’s top employers are moving beyond standard offerings in order to attract and retain a competitive workforce.
Companies across the board are increasing the scope of their benefits programs, balancing high-impact, high-cost offerings with low-cost perks that appeal to a broad swatch of workers. The most common offerings include:
- Healthcare benefits. As the cost of health insurance continues to climb, 20 percent of employers have made the choice to increase their healthcare coverage—the highest of any surveyed benefit category.
Eighty-five percent offer a preferred provider organization (PPO) insurance plan, while 59 percent opt for a high deductible health plan (HDHP) linked with health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). Healthcare flexible spending accounts also remain popular among 68 percent of surveyed respondents, followed closely by HSAs offered alongside a HDHP (56 percent).
The vast majority of organizations offered supplemental insurance options, with 83 percent providing accidental death insurance; 71 percent offering long-term disability; 61 percent offering short-term disability; and 27 percent offering accident insurance.
- Investment and retirement benefits. Ninety-three percent of organizations provide traditional 401K plans and 74 percent match employee contributions at some level.
But beyond retirement benefits, HR leaders are recognizing that employees of all walks of life are concerned about their financial health. As a result, many have begun to offer advisory services to help employees with their financial decision-making. Fifty-seven percent offer retirement investment advice, 36 percent offer non-retirement financial advice, and 18 percent offer credit counseling services.
Education benefits have also become a priority, with more than half (56 percent) of companies offering tuition assistance for current students and a growing number offering student loan repayment services (8 percent).
- Family-friendly and wellness benefits. While most organizations (67 percent) have not made changes to these types of benefits in the last year, wellness benefits represent a huge opportunity for companies to distinguish themselves among candidates and drive culture and engagement in the organization.
Currently, more than half of employers (58 percent) offer wellness benefits. Perks like quiet rooms (21 percent), fitness activities (30 percent), and standing desks (60 percent) have seen increases in the past five years.
Family-friendly benefits are also becoming more prevalent, with a quarter of organizations allowing parents to bring their children to work in an emergency. Services to support new parents such as lactation rooms (51 percent), lactation support services (13 percent), and on-ramping programs for parents returning to work (12 percent) have seen steady increases.
- Leave and flexible working benefits. While organizations have begun to focus more on benefits to support families, paid leave for new parents has changed little in the last year. Only about a third of organizations offer paid maternity and paternity leave (34 percent and 30 percent, respectively).
Nearly all organizations provide paid vacation (98 percent) and sick days (95 percent), with most opting to manage both options through a single paid time off bank (62 percent).