Offering the right mix of employee benefits is necessary for employers who want to hire and retain people during this era of full employment.
Some of these were detailed in the annual employee benefits survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.
“The talent market is tight. Wage growth has begun to occur, but employers wary of economic uncertainty remain cautious about increasing wage and salary compensation, and some choose to diversify benefits offerings in lieu of paying higher wages,” SHRM reports.
Finding the right combination of benefits appealing to a multigenerational workforce can be a challenge, according to Alex Alonso, chief knowledge officer for SHRM.
“If you know a good portion of your workforce are Baby Boomers with aging parents, you might choose to beef up your caregiving benefits and flexible scheduling policies. If you have a young demographic, offering benefits like student loan repayment could be the way to go.”
Student loan repayment benefits have risen from 4% in 2018 to 8% in this year’s survey. SHRM predicts that this benefit category will gain additional traction if Congress passes pending legislation designed to encourage it.
More than half (56%) of employers also offer tuition assistance to employees.
Nearly all organizations said they offer some kind of retirement plan, but 93% offer traditional 401K plans, a slight increase over that last five years, and 74% of employers match employee 401K contributions at some level.
Health insurance is becoming more expensive, driving employers to diversify into other benefit areas. average family health insurance premiums have increased twice as fast as workers’ earnings and three times as fast as inflation since 2008.
“Health care costs are eating up a good portion of employer benefits budgets, so employers aren’t choosing to make many new changes,” Alonso explains. “It’s really about incorporating the higher health care costs and doing what you can with the rest of your benefits budget to meet employees’ needs.”
About 85% of employers offer a Preferred Provider Organization plan, while High Deductible Health plans linked with health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements rose by 10%. At least 59% of organizations report having at least one HDHP offering.
When it comes to innovation, telemedicine and telehealth increased by 10% within the past year. In addition, telemedicine benefits have increased from 23% in 2016 to 72% this year.
Wellness benefits are on the rise as well. Programs focused on particular health conditions (24%) or health screening (31%) have declined as insurers have moved into this space, but benefits like quiet rooms (21%) and fitness activities (30%) have seen increases. Standing desks are rising in popularity with 60% of employers offering them, compared to 25% just five years ago.
Family-friendly benefits also increasing. A quarter of employers allow parents to bring children to work in emergencies. However, other childcare benefits remain rare, including childcare referral services and childcare centers and programs.
Worksite lactation/mother’s rooms are offered by 51% of employers, which is up 16% from 2015. Employers offering family leave above the time required by the federal law rose by 6%.
Paid leave for new fathers has gone up only slightly since 2018, but it has experienced a steady 14% rise over the past five years and is now within 4% of paid leave for new mothers.
SHRM also found that while elder care benefits have become slightly more common over the last five years, they are still relatively rare.