Employers boosting benefits to woo talent

Nearly one-third of organizations increased their overall benefits in the last 12 months in an effort to stand out as employers of choice in today’s competitive recruiting environment, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2017 Employee Benefits survey report released June 19.

Better benefits packages were most likely to be found in health (22%) and wellness (24%) offerings.

Offering insurance to employee spouses and domestic partners is one way employers are strategically using health care benefits in recruiting.

In 2014, 71% of employers offered health coverage to opposite-sex spouses, while only 46% offered it to same-sex spouses. That gap closed to just 10 percentage points in 2017. Ninety-five percent of employees now offer health care coverage to opposite-sex spouses, while 85% offer it to same-sex spouses.

Just over one-third of employers—34%—now offer health insurance to part-time employees, compared to 27% in 2014.

About three of every five organizations (59%) have a general wellness program for employees.

Flexible work arrangements have become an increasingly important recruitment and retention inducement. Sixty-two percent of employers surveyed allow some type of telecommuting; and 57% offer flextime, allowing employees to choose their work hours within limits established by the employer.

The biggest change for flexible working benefits was a 59% increase over the past five years in the number of employers permitting telecommuting on an ad-hoc basis.

Among other survey findings:

  • 66% of new mothers used all available paid maternity leave, a rate double that of new fathers
  • 25% of organizations offer an on-site fitness center; 25% offer subsidies or reimbursement for off-site fitness center memberships or fees
  • 49% of employers let staff dress casually every workday
  • 80% of employees get free coffee now, up from 72% in 2013.

Standing desks had a greater increase over the past five years than any of the benefits covered by the SHRM survey. This benefit grew threefold from 13% in 2013 to 44% in 2017.