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
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.