SHRM Benefits Survey: Employers Are Boosting Benefits Packages to Attract Top Talent

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 of Human Resource Management (SHRM)’s 2017 Employee Benefits Survey. Increases in health (22 percent) and wellness (24 percent) offerings, as well as providing healthcare benefits to employees’ spouses and domestic partners, were major strategies from organizations in helping to remain competitive.

Nick Otto’s June 21, 2017, Employee Benefit Adviser article reported on the findings from the recently-released annual SHRM study. Highlights include:

  • In 2014, 71 percent of companies offered opposite-sex spouses healthcare coverage, while only 46 percent 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 percent offer it to same-sex spouses.
  • About three in every five employers offer general wellness programs, according to the report. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) reported increased wellness benefits offerings in the past year, with the most common wellness benefit being providing wellness resources and information (71 percent). According to the study, 62 percent gave wellness tips or information at least quarterly in the form of a newsletter, e-mail, column, tweets, etc.

According to Otto’s article, because benefit programs are so important, but costly, to remaining competitive in the talent war, SHRM says it’s imperative for employers to leverage their benefit packages to the fullest extent possible. It offers these tips to employers to help get the most bang for the buck.

  1. Conduct employee surveys and analyze organizational data to learn what benefits are most valued, if there are differences among employees and what employees want that your organization is not providing.
  2. Benchmark your organization’s benefits against others in your industry. Look for gaps where your organization either lags or leads your competitors.
  3. Align benefits with organizational strategy, values and culture to help foster employee commitment, sense of purpose and engagement.
  4. Implement strategies to help manage the cost of benefits.
  5. Review your benefits communication strategy to make sure benefits are understood and used by employees. For benefits with low uptake or use, consider revising the communication strategy and providing more frequent communication about the benefits.

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

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