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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, July 01, 2018 1:00 am

Benefits prove beneficial to retain workers

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Employers looking to retain employees and reduce turnover might try beefing up benefits packages.

If the goal is to recruit employees, the carrot may be the benefits.

More than one-third, or 34 percent, of organizations increased the overall benefits offered employees in the last 12 months, results from the 2018 Employee Benefits Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management show.

When employers added offerings, they were most likely to increase health-related benefits (51 percent) and wellness benefits (44 percent), according to the results, released June 22.

Retention, cited by 72 percent of respondents, and recruiting, cited by 58 percent, were the top reasons for increasing benefits, the survey found.

“With unemployment at an 18-year low, employers view benefits as a strategic tool for recruiting and retention,” Trent Burner, vice president of research for the HR organization, said in a news release about the results. “Strategic organizations adjust their benefits year-to-year, depending upon their use by employees, cost and effectiveness in helping an organization stand out in the competition for talent.”

Wellness benefits are popular. Seventy-five percent of employers offer wellness resources and information and/or a general wellness program.

Over the last year, substantial increases were seen in company-organized fitness competitions/challenges – from 28 percent in 2017 to 38 percent in 2018. The prevalence of CPR/first aid training increased 7 percentage points, 47 percent to 54 percent, and standing desks increased from 44 percent to 53 percent.

The availability of paid parental leave increased significantly between 2016 and 2018 for every type of parental leave surveyed. Paid maternity leave increased from 26 percent in 2016 to 35 percent in 2018 while paid paternity jumped from 21 percent to 29 percent.

Similar percentage-point increases occurred in other areas, including adoption and surrogacy, the HR organization said.

In top offerings not related to health, employee programs and service benefits increased by 39 percent at organizations that increased benefits offerings in the past 12 months.

For example, 50 percent of organizations allow casual dress every day. That's up 6 percentage points since last year. Several other benefits increased over the last five years, including free coffee, company-provided snacks and annual company outings.

The Human Resources Society said its annual survey of U.S. employers examines more than 300 benefits that organizations offer their employees. The survey of 3,518 randomly selected HR professionals was done in February and March. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Other findings include:

• Preventive programs specifically targeting employees with chronic health conditions fell by 8 percentage points, from 33 percent in 2017 to 25 percent in 2018.

• A substantial increase was seen for life insurance for dependents with 70 percent of organizations offering this benefit in 2018, an increase of 13 percentage points from last year.

• 63 percent of organizations give service anniversary awards, an increase of 9 percentage points.

• More than two-thirds, or 70 percent, of organizations offer some type of telecommuting, up from 62 percent last year.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at lisagreen@jg.net. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on/.