SHRM: Benefits plans adjust to volatility

Employers are remodeling their benefits plans to give employees more power to manage their health care costs, retirement, financial security, and leave, according to a 2011 Employee Benefits Study from the Society for Human Resource Management.

Noteworthy findings, provided by SHRM in an executive summary included:

• Although the percentage of HR professionals that reported their companies have been negatively affected by the economic recession has slightly decreased over the last year, there has been a slight increase in the percentage of respondents eporting their benefits offerings have been negatively affected by the economy.

• Organizations spent on average 19 percent of an employee’s annual salary on mandatory benefits, 19 percent on voluntary benefits and 11 percent on pay for time not worked benefits.

• Health savings accounts (HSA) are becoming more and more prevalent, while HMO plans continue to decline in popularity.

• Over the last year, there was a slight increase in the percentage of companies offering health care premium discounts for employees who had an annual health risk assessment, participated in a weight loss program, participated in a wellness program and/or had not used tobacco products.

• Employer-sponsored retirement plans continue to shift away from defined benefit pension plans toward defined contribution retirement savings plans and Roth 401(k) savings plans. Even though the percentage of companies that offered defined contribution plans continued to increase, there was a slight decline in the percentage of companies that offered employer-matching contributions.

• Financial and compensation benefits have experienced considerable declines throughout the last five years. The most significant decreases were in educational assistance programs, incentive bonus plans for executives, life insurance for dependents and undergraduate educational assistance.  

• Paid time off plans continue to gain in popularity, while the prevalence of paid vacation plans remains stagnant.

• While adoption assistance, elder care referral service and foster care assistance have experienced significant declines over the last five years, familyfriendly benefits have remained relatively stable throughout recent years.

• After gradual declines over the last five years, a number of flexible working benefits have experienced positive gains since 2010.

• Over the last five years, there were several decreases in the number of organizations offering employee services benefits. The following benefits experienced sharp declines: executive club memberships, legal assistance/services, mentoring programs, organization-sponsored sports teams, professional development opportunities and travel planning services.

• Housing and relocation benefits have experienced significant declines over the last five years. These benefits included assistance selling previous home, cost-of-living differential, down payment assistance, location visit assistance, mortgage assistance, rental assistance, spouse relocation assistance and temporary relocation benefits.



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