article: The SHRM Employee Benefits Trends for 2017

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Posted by Aman Verma on Friday, 08-11-2017 HR.com


You are running a successful company and you have great employees on board. How do you keep them from quitting and joining another company? Here is where Employee Benefits come in!


Business owners should provide some employee benefits so that their business has a chance for long-term prosperity. Heading the list of must-have benefits is medical insurance, a retirement plan, disability insurance and more. Tell an applicant no benefits are offered, and often top-flight candidates will head for the door. When you give employees the benefits they value, they’ll be more satisfied, miss fewer workdays, be less likely to quit, and would be committed to meeting the company’s goals.


Earlier this year, SHRM releasedits 2017 Employee Benefits Report which is based on randomly selected SHRM members, in which 3,227 HR professionals responded. Here are some of the highlights:


Overall Positive Trends in Employee Benefits  


According to the report, almost a third of companies increased their overall benefits offerings in the past year to remain competitive for talent. However, more than two-thirds of the companies reported difficulties finding the employees with the skills they need. Benefits are playing a strong role in whether a company is seen as an employer of choice.


Rise in Health Insurance Options and Health Savings Accounts (HSA)


Confusion around health insurance over the past few years has increased employee focus on health insurance options, and employers have responded. According to the SHRM report, companies are adding wellness and health-related benefits, while health savings accounts, often paired with high deductible health plans, are on the rise. HSAs can be funded up to annual limits by employers, employees or both. HSAs coupled with high-deductible health plans continued to be added as a health plan option and sometimes are the only available option. In 2017, 55 percent of employers offered an HSA, up from 42 percent in 2013.


Surge in Wellness, Work-life and Convenience benefits


Employers continue to add flexible work options (15%) and 3 out of 5 organizations (62%) provided telecommuting of some kind. Professional development (87%) and financial advice (49%) are increasingly popular as well. Flexible spending accounts, service anniversary awards, compressed workweeks and long-term care insurance are however on the decline, the report found.


One interesting development is the fact that more employers are providing employees with a Standing Desk, which had the greatest increase over the past five years. This new benefit grew more than threefold from 13% in 2013 to 44% in 2017, adding 11 percentage points in the last year. This is due to a recent medical research that found that sitting for long periods of time—regardless of the amount of physical activity—is associated with numerous negative health outcomes such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and increased risk of death.


The Growing Role of Financial Benefits


Employees are increasingly focused on financial issues. In 2014, only 28 percent of companies offered financial advice benefits, while 49 percent did so in 2017. As the benefits providers offer new options, employers are looking for ways to include financial benefits in their portfolios.


Different generations are interested in different kinds of financial benefits — millennials are concerned with student loan debt (4%) and are more interested in benefits such as tuition assistance or loan assistance. Older generations may be more interested in asset protection and retirement options. Employers are also offering financial service plans (49%) to help manage, consolidate and pay off student loans.


Development and Retention


Generational needs are influencing other benefits choices as well. More than 20 percent of employees say a lack of career advancement opportunities make them leave their employers. More employers are looking at development to improve retention, succession planning and the education level of their workforces. Professional development (any type) has risen to 87% in an employer’s benefit plans. Millennials, in particular, appreciate training and development as they look for ways to gain skills quickly so investing in training budget would do a world of good to a company.


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