The SHRM 2019 Employee Benefits Survey – A Review

Benefit Trends October 9, 2019

Introducing the SHRM Employee Benefits Survey

As we enter Q4 of 2019, we’ll take a brief look into how health and other benefits have changed over the past year. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducts an annual Employee Benefits Survey, which delves into 250 different benefit offerings and how their prevalence has shifted over the last five years. SHRM assessed employers of varying sizes, locations, organization types and industries. Results are presented in five categories: Healthcare and Health Services, Investment and Retirement, Leave and Flexible Working, Family-Friendly and Wellness, and Programs and Services. To review the study in detail, click here.

The Results: Healthcare and Health Services[1]

It should come as no surprise that health insurance benefits topped the list on the 2019 survey overall. Of all benefits assessed, both health and wellness benefits were most likely to see an increase this year, as 20% of surveyed organizations reported additions to their benefit packages in these areas. While the rise in wellness perks was concentrated to larger employers, the improvements in health benefits took place across the board, regardless of the organization’s size. This is due to the fact that companies are starting to recognize the true impact that health benefits have on their workforce. Eighty-six percent of employers stated that they felt healthcare is either very or extremely important to their employees.

According to the survey, 83% of employers share the cost of health insurance premiums with their employees.[2] With premiums rising twice as fast as earnings and thrice as fast as inflation, health insurance costs have become one of the biggest factors in deciding what benefits to offer. Thus, there is movement toward high deductible health plans (HDHPs) that are often linked with HSAs or HRAs. Nearly 60% of survey respondents reported offering at least one HDHP option. 

The Results: Investment and Retirement[3]

A smaller 12% of respondents indicated any increase to their retirement benefits over the last 12 months. However, a significant cohort of employers think that retirement and planning benefits are either extremely or very important to their workforce. Student loan repayment and credit counseling were offered by more employers this year than in 2018, while significantly fewer employers provided financial advice benefits.

The Results: Leave and Flexible Working[4]

Fifteen percent of survey participants indicated that their leave benefits increased in the previous calendar year, with family leave above federal FMLA rising by 6%. Parental leave is projected to continue to be in the spotlight as the election year could bring changes to legislation. More than 90% of organizations claim to offer some sort of paid leave, many of which are now using a PTO bank structure that combines vacation and sick days.

Telecommuting and flexible scheduling continued on an upward trajectory, which may be causing the downshift in relocation, housing, and business travel benefits. Nearly 70% of all businesses offer ad-hoc telecommuting at a minimum, while many allow part- and full-time remote work.

The Results: Family-Friendly and Wellness

While family-friendly benefits such as dependent care FSAs and non-healthcare spousal/domestic partner benefits have declined, wellness benefits like standing desks, onsite stress management, and mindfulness programs are on the rise. Wellness spaces such as quiet rooms and support for physical fitness, whether onsite or off, are two of the most common wellness benefits reported.

The Results: Programs and Services

Fourteen percent of organizations claim to have increased professional development opportunities within the past year, but on the whole, program and service benefits have remained relatively constant. The largest increase within this category was an 8% increase in auto subsidies for use of personal vehicles for business. Food and beverage benefits in the workplace have increased significantly over the greater five-year period. Pet-related benefits such as allowing pets in the office and pet insurance are also on trend.

What Do These Metrics Tell Us?

Companies are choosing to augment benefit offerings as opposed to providing outright salary increases. Why? Because employees can benefit just as much or more from unique and tailored benefits as they can hard cash. And, employers can mitigate the risk that simply increasing wages might have in economic uncertainty.[5] While utilization of supplemental insurance options has remained stable, interest and need may rise in the foreseeable future should more organizations shift costs toward employees. Visit our website today to learn about how our products can help you differentiate in the changing landscape of benefits.

[1] SHRM

[2] SHRM

[3] SHRM

[4] SHRM

[5] SHRM

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