Nearly one-third of employers chose to expand their employee benefits over the past 16 months to remain competitive in a heated recruiting environment, according to a Society for Human Resource Management study.
“Recruiting difficulty has continued to increase over the last five years, and competition for talent is high,” explains Shonna Waters, vice president of research for SHRM.
“Most companies are now using benefits as a strategic tool for recruiting and retaining talent in this competitive environment.”
Increases in benefits packages most often involved health (22%) and wellness (24%) offerings. SHRM also found that 95% of employers now offer health care coverage to opposite-sex spouses, while 85% offer it to same-sex spouses as well.
Additionally, about one-third of companies (34%) are offering health care coverage to part-time employees – in contrast to only 27% in 2014.
At the same time, 59% of employers reported offering a general wellness program for their workers.
The society found that 30% provide paid maternity leave beyond what’s covered by short-term disability or state law, a jump from 26% in 2016. However, only 24% choose to offer paternity leave.
SHRM says 17 new benefits were added during the period covered by the survey. These include a four-day workweek of 32 hours or less (13%); paid time off to vote (42%); unpaid time off to vote beyond what is required by law (33%); cancer insurance separate from critical illness insurance, (28%); and company-paid identity theft protection (9%).
The increase in some kinds of flexible work arrangements indicates that it is now an important factor with recruitment and retention, SHRM notes. About 62% of employers permitted some type of telecommuting, and 57% offered flextime, allowing employees to choose their work hours within limits established by the employer.