Flat wages and a tough job market have led many companies to expand their healthcare insurance and other employer-sponsored benefits, a new survey shows.
The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) survey found that 38% of businesses polled said they have been using benefits to attract employees in the past year. That was up from 26% in 2013 and 29% in 2012, when the annual survey began. The same number (38%) said their firms found it challenging to recruit employees at all levels of their organization, up from 26% in 2013 and 23% in 2012.
“While the competition for talented workers has heated up, there has been little change in base salaries,” SHRM’s Director of Survey Programs, Evren Esen, said in a news release. “So HR has strategically turned to benefits to attract – and keep – skilled professionals.”
More than 460 human resources (HR) professionals who are SHRM members were randomly polled for the study. SHRM has 275,000 members in more than 160 countries and says it is the world’s largest HR membership organization.
To entice the best workers, 69% of companies offered employee wellness programs this year, and 52% indicated that employee participation has increased every year since 2012, the 2015 Strategic Benefits Survey found.
Flexible work arrangements also played a greater role. Nearly one-half (48%) of HR professionals surveyed said their organizations offered employees flexible work arrangements, with 29% of companies saying employee participation increased from last year.
Healthcare remains the most-valued benefit for employees, survey officials said. In 2015, companies paid an average of 76% of their workers’ healthcare costs, although 46% of respondents said they increased employees’ contributions over the previous year.
The findings coincide with results of another SHRM survey released this year that found 35% of employers have increased their package of benefits over the past year. While few organizations have eliminated healthcare benefits as the result of the federal Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, many said they have focused on preventative care to try to reduce expenses and have shifted costs to employees.
The SHRM Employee Benefits report also found that over the past five years more organizations have expanded their coverage to offer mental health care, vision, short-term disability insurance, health savings accounts (HSAs) and other benefits.