Two New Studies Reveal Surprising Findings About Employee Benefits

benefitsTwo new studies have recently been released on the state of employee benefits. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released the Employee Benefits Survey report, which investigates the types of benefits organizations are offering, including health, wellness, leave, flexibility, career, retirement, and other benefits. The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) also recently released its report on The State of Employee Benefits. This report covers what types of benefits employees value, how satisfied they are with those benefits, their perspectives on health benefits, and the future of employee benefits.

The talent market has never been tighter, which makes these reports that much more important for employers to fully understand. Both reports contained some surprising findings, detailed here. Click through to download the full PDF reports.

SHRM Employee Benefits 2019 Survey

Companies are investing heavily in benefits to attract and retain talent. No more than 3% of organizations decreased benefits in any category, whatsoever.

Employers believe that healthcare and retirement benefits are the most important, followed by employee leave and flexible work arrangements.

Despite the fact that health insurance premiums have increased at 2X the rate of workers’ earnings and 3X the rate of inflation since 2008, 70% of organizations have maintained healthcare benefits at existing levels, 20% have increased these benefits, and only 3% have decreased them.

Although wellness benefits offerings were increased by 20% of organizations in 2019, employers rank wellness near the bottom in importance to their workforce.

Wellness programs are offered by 58% of employers, but the kinds of services included in these programs have changed in the past five years. Programs focused on particular health conditions (24%) or health screening (31%) have seen declines as insurers have moved into this space, while benefits like quiet rooms (21%), fitness activities (30%) and standing desks (60%) have seen increases.

56% of employers now offer tuition assistance. Student loan repayment assistance, still uncommon, has doubled since 2018, and is now offered by 8% of employers.

Financial advisement services are becoming a common benefit. 57% of employers offer retirement investment advice, 36% offer non-retirement financial advice, and 18% offer credit counseling services.

74% of employers now match employee 401K contributions at some level.

EBRI The State of Employee Benefits Findings from 2018 Survey

More employees are stressed by not saving enough for retirement than about any other financial concern that might be addressed through employee benefits. This includes monthly bills or debt. Baby Boomers are more likely than Millennials to report that saving enough for retirement causes financial stress, while Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers to report that paying monthly bills and student loan repayment cause financial stress.

Fewer workers report receiving benefits from their employers in 2018 compared to 2017. Declines can be observed in 80% of the most popular benefit offerings.

73% of workers say health insurance was the most important benefit in making a job decision in 2018, followed by retirement savings plan at 57%, and dental or vision insurance at 26%.

37% of employees indicate that their employer or benefits company provides no education or advice on benefits.

Vacation time is down. 78% of full-time workers received at least some vacation time, down from 84% in 2017.

The top trigger for employees making annual changes to their benefits was looking to save money at 51%, followed by looking to increase coverage at 29%. Suprisingly, only 6% were triggered by a requirement because the company changed insurers, so employees are enjoying healthcare stability.

One of the areas that will require more discussion within companies going forward is the importance of wellness programs. While encouraging preventative care and health/nutrition/fitness is necessary to keep the costs of insurance for a pool of employees down, demand in the workforce isn’t there to support the current spending levels.

Which employee benefit issues are most concerning to your company. Share your perspectives with us on Facebook!