Check out this interesting article from Workforce about the most recent SHRM benefits study by Andie Burjek
Health care is still the king of employee benefits packages.
Nearly one-third (30 percent) of HR professionals indicated that within an employee benefits package, health care was their primary strategic focus, according to a survey released Nov. 30 by the Society for Human Resource Management.
SHRM surveyed 738 HR professionals for its 2016 Strategic Benefits Survey and conducted annually since 2012, in five categories: wellness initiatives, flexible work arrangements, health care, leveraging benefits to retain and recruit employees, and assessment and communication of benefits.
The survey also found that among all categories of employees, health care most impacts retention, said Evren Esen, SHRM’s director of workforce analytics. The survey specifically differentiated between high-performing, highly skilled and millennial employees, all of who were most swayed to stay by health care.
“There are a lot of different ways that organizations can tailor their benefits to meet the strategic needs of recruiting and retaining employees,” said Esen. “And that’s where we see a lot of creativity and innovation. Good employers know the benefits that their employees and potential employees will value and then they shape their benefits accordingly.”
Almost 1 in 5 survey respondents said that over the past year they’ve altered their benefits program to help with retention of employees at all levels of the organization, and the most popular area to change, indicated by 61 percent of respondents, was health care. Just below was flexible working (37 percent) and retirement (35 percent).
SHRM also found that there was a decrease in HR professionals worried about health care costs. Sixty-six percent of respondents were “very concerned” about controlling health care costs in 2016, compared to 79 percent in 2014.
Health care is a big-ticket item, so there will always be concern, said Esen. That being said, the decrease may be attributed to several possibilities.
First, Esen explained, health care costs have been rising, but not at the same double-digit rates they have been in previous years. SHRM has seen this level of concern decline annually since 2012.
Wellness may also have played a role.
“Wellness has been much more integrated in organizations and their health care strategies,” said Esen. “Organizations have found wellness does impact health care costs in the long run.” She doubled down on the point that an employer probably won’t see a decrease in health care costs immediately thanks to a wellness program, however there is long-term potential. Almost half (48 percent) of survey respondents said their company wellness initiatives decreased health care costs.
“That may have alleviated some concern that employers have,” she added. “Because at least there’s something they can do. They have some control. They can encourage their employees to be healthier.”
Under wellness, one notable finding was that although interest in wellness is rising, certain programs are being offered less. In the past five years, Esen noted, programs that have steadily decreased include: health care premium discounts for both participating in a weight-loss program and not using tobacco; on-site stress reduction programs; and health and lifestyle coaching.
“Companies are examining ways to keep wellness relevant to employees,” she said. “Employers, if they really do want to continue with wellness and have impact on health care costs, need to continually be assessing and also be creative in terms of the type of wellness programs they [offer], because just like anything, it will become stale over time.”
Burjek A. (2016 December 1). SHRM study: health care remains key benefit for all employee groups[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.workforce.com/2016/12/01/shrm-study-health-care-remains-key-benefit-employee-groups/