Em­ploy­ers boost­ing ben­e­fits pack­ages to at­tract top tal­ent

Health and well­ness perks dom­i­nate of­fer­ings added in the last year, ac­cord­ing to SHRM’s an­nual re­port

Employee Benefit News - - CONTENTS - BY NICK OTTO

Health and well­ness perks dom­i­nate of­fer­ings added in the last year, ac­cord­ing to the So­ci­ety for Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment’s an­nual re­port.

Nearly one-third of em­ploy­ers ex­panded their ben­e­fit pack­ages in the last 12 months in an ef­fort to at­tract and re­tain top tal­ent, ac­cord­ing to the So­ci­ety for Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment’s 2017 Em­ployee Ben­e­fits Sur­vey.

In­creases in health (22%) and well­ness (24%) of­fer­ings, as well as pro­vid­ing health­care ben­e­fits to em­ploy­ees’ spouses and do­mes­tic part­ners, were ma­jor strate­gies from or­ga­ni­za­tions in help­ing to re­main com­pet­i­tive.

In 2014, 71% of com­pa­nies of­fered op­po­site-sex spouses health­care cov- er­age, while only 46% of­fered it to same-sex spouses. That gap closed to just 10 per­cent­age points in 2017, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Ninety-five per­cent of em­ploy­ees now of­fer health­care cov­er­age to op­po­site-sex spouses, while 85% of­fer it to same-sex spouses. Although to con­trol health­care costs, 19% of em­ploy­ers have re­stric­tions or a sur­charge for cov­er­age for op­po­site-sex spouses, and 16% have re­stric­tions for cov­er­age for same-sex spouses, SHRM says.

“Re­cruit­ing dif­fi­culty has con­tin­ued to in­crease over the last five years, and com­pe­ti­tion for tal­ent is high,” says 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.”

Along­side the fo­cus on health­care, em­ploy­ers also are tak­ing a deep dive into well­ness pro­grams, with about three in ev­ery five em-

“Most com­pa­nies are now us­ing ben­e­fits as a strate­gic tool for re­cruit­ing and re­tain­ing tal­ent in this com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment.”

ploy­ers of­fer­ing gen­eral well­ness pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Nearly one-quar­ter (24%) re­ported in­creased well­ness ben­e­fits of­fer­ings in the past year, with the most com­mon well­ness ben­e­fit be­ing pro­vid­ing well­ness re­sources and in­for­ma­tion (71%). Ac­cord­ing to the study, 62% gave well­ness tips or in­for­ma­tion at least quar­terly in the form of a news­let­ter, e-mail, col­umn, tweets, etc.

While many or­ga­ni­za­tions have been ex­tend­ing health­care cov­er­age to em­ploy­ees’ fam­i­lies, two-thirds of those sur­veyed said they were very con­cerned about con­trol­ling health­care costs while an­other 31% were some­what con­cerned.

From 2016 to 2017, health­care costs in­creased for 79% of or­ga­ni­za­tions, with an 11% in­crease, on av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to SHRM.

One strat­egy that some or­ga­ni­za­tions are us­ing to mit­i­gate health­care costs is to im­ple­ment re­stric­tions on cov­er­age for spouses and do­mes­tic part­ners. One of the more com­mon cost-curb­ing em­ployer moves was adding a sur­charge or deny­ing cov­er­age if the em­ployee’s spouse was of­fered cov­er­age by an­other em­ployer.

Other cost-sav­ing mea­sures in­clude pro­vid­ing only se­condary cov­er­age, charg­ing higher pre­mi­ums or cost-shar­ing amounts, and not al­low­ing em­ploy­ees to use pre­tax earn­ings to pay for spousal pre­mi­ums, the re­port notes.

Health sav­ings ac­counts are an­other tac­tic.

More than one-half (55%) of or­ga­ni­za­tions of­fered HSAs in 2017, ac­cord­ing to SHRM, and more than one-third (36%) pro­vided an em­ployer con­tri­bu­tion to the HSA, also show­ing an up­ward trend.

Mean­while, flex­i­ble spend­ing ac­counts have seen a slight dip over the past few years, ac­cord­ing to the study. In 2013, 72% of or­ga­ni­za­tions were of­fer­ing an FSA; that num­ber has ta­pered off to 65% this year.

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