If you’ve ever wondered just what kind of employee benefit you could offer,  what benefits other companies offer and what the top employee benefits are- fret no more. The legends at SHRM have run their annual 2017 Employee Benefits Survey –   Remaining Competitive in a Challenging Talent Marketplace. This has been running for years and is a complete treasure trove not only for that competitive advantage – but also for ideas. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. We  have covered just a small perspective of the report here, so do take a look at the full version later – perhaps grab a large tea or G&T and get stuck in!

So – before the ideas part – what’s new in Employee Benefits so far?

Health benefits on decline–wellbeing on the up

Nearly one-third of organisations increased their overall benefits offerings in the last 12 months

The most common changes have been for organisations to increase wellness benefits (13%) and professional and career development benefits (7%) whilst organisations that had reduced their benefits package were most likely to have decreased health care benefits –(57%). This may be a reaction to costs – From 2016 to 2017, health care costs increased for 79% of organisations, with an 11% increase on average. 66% were very concerned about controlling health care costs and another 31% were somewhat concerned. : 77% of organisations indicated their wellness program was somewhat or very effective in reducing health care costs.

On the flipside, a new benefit has emerged in 2017 – Cancer insurance (separate from critical illness insurance) with 28% of employees offering this perk and Genetic testing coverage for diseases like cancer has increased from 12% in 2016 to 18%. Don’t forget the report is US based so there could be a skew vs the UK or Europe in this favour.

Standing desks ‘the greatest increased benefit’

A provision of a standing desk grew more than threefold from 13% in 2013 to 44% in 2017, adding 11 percentage points in the last year

Paid leave and rollover holiday days on rise

Most organisations (91%) paid at least some portion of unused paid vacation leave upon voluntary termination, and two-thirds (68%) allowed employees to roll over at least some of their unused paid vacation leave.

Paternity shows decrease

Fewer organisations (24%) offered paid paternity leave. On average, organisations that offered paid leave for a new child provided 41 days for maternity leave, 22 days for paternity leave, 31 days for adoption leave and 36 days for surrogacy leave

2/5 say flexible work is ‘most effective’ recruitment strategy

Three out of five organisations (62%) allowed some type of telecommuting, and 57% offered flextime. 2 out of 5 organisations cited offering more flexible work arrangements as one of the most effective recruiting strategies. On top of this paid time off to vote is a new benefit offered by 42% of workplaces

New 4 day workweek emerging trend?

A new benefit added to the survey in 2017, a four-day workweek of 32 hours or less per week, was implemented by 13% of organisations.

Free coffee more likely than subsidised canteens

The study showed an increase in offering free coffee (from 72% to 80% over the past five years) and a decrease in offering a fully or partially subsidised onsite cafeteria (16% compared with 23% in 2013).

Nearly half of organisations offering financial advice

Nearly one-half (49%) provided some type of financial advice, whether it was online, one on one or in a group or classroom format. This benefit can help employees improve their financial management skills, plan how to manage debt, and hopefully alleviate stress and worry as a result of this type of education

48% say professional development is an effective strategy

Nearly one-half of HR professionals (48%) indicated that the most effective recruiting strategy for their organisation was training existing employees to take on hard-to-fill positions. The most common professional development benefits offered were professional memberships (89%) and either offsite or onsite professional development opportunities (87%)

‘Light’ travel expense benefits on increase

The report shows that travel reimbursements are offered – for example, for taking a taxi to the airport (87%) and for parking at the airport (87%), reimbursement for meals and snacks at 76%

The Top 300 Employee Benefits

In January and February 2017, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted its annual survey of U.S. employers. The results below show the percentage of workplaces offering the benefit. Please do read the report online – whilst we can show some of the benefits here, the report displays it in a lovely PDF format – great for showing the board, as well as the changes year on year for every single item! You can also find the reasoning behind the results and details on precisely what each item is. In short – this is just a snapshot and we are very grateful for SHRM running the report so we can all understand more about the benefit landscape. Get your copy here

Wellbeing and Health

Wellness resources and information 71%

Wellness tips or information provided to employees at least quarterly 62%

Wellness programs, general 59%

Onsite seasonal flu vaccinations 58%

Annual health risk assessment 40%

Rewards or bonuses for completing certain health and wellness programs  39%

Smoking cessation program 37%

Health fairs 35%

Preventive programs specifically targeting employees with chronic health conditions 33%

Weight loss program 30%

Onsite health screening programs 29%

Company-organized fitness competitions/challenges 28%

Onsite stress management program 7%

Onsite vegetable gardens 5%

CPR/first aid training 47%

24-hour nurse line 43%

Personal or life coaching 30%

Onsite blood pressure machine 18%

Nutritional counseling 16%

Onsite massage therapy services 10%

Onsite medical clinic 88%

Onsite meditation/mindfulness/contemplative program 7%

Standing desk 44%

Onsite quiet room for personal use (prayer, meditation, etc.) 15%

Onsite sick room 8%

Onsite nap room 4%

Offsite fitness center membership subsidy/reimbursement 26%

Onsite fitness center 25%

Onsite fitness classes 18%

Offsite fitness class subsidy/reimbursement 13%

Company-provided fitness bands/activity trackers 8%

Fitness equipment subsidy/reimbursement 5%

Bike purchase or bike share subsidy/reimbursement 4%

Smoking surcharge for health care plans  19%

Health care premium discount for getting an annual health risk assessment 17%

Health care premium discount for participating in a wellness program 15%

Health care premium discount for not using tobacco products 15%

Health care premium discount for participating in a smoking cessation program 11%

Health care premium discount for participating in a weight loss program 6%

Holidays and leave

Paid holidays 97%

Floating holidays 42%

Religious accommodation paid holidays 17%

Paid leave for the purpose of vacation 96%

Paid leave for the purpose of sickness 81%

Paid personal day(s) 33%

Vacation purchase plan 4%

Unlimited paid PTO bank  4%

Unlimited paid sick time 5%

Unlimited paid vacation time 2%

Company-paid time off for group vacations 2%

Vacation stipend  1%

Paid bereavement leave 79%

Paid jury duty beyond what is required by law 65%

Paid time off to vote 42%

Unpaid time off to vote (beyond what is required by law) 33%

Paid military leave 25%

Paid time off for volunteering 22%

Paid time off to serve on the board of a community group or professional association  20%

Unpaid sabbatical program 12%

Paid day off for employee’s birthday 9%

Emergency flexibility 7%

Paid sabbatical program 5%

Paid maternity leave 30%

Paid paternity leave 24%

Paid adoption leave 23%

Paid parental leave 20%

Paid surrogacy leave 8%

Paid family leave 21%

Finance and pensions

Traditional 401(k) or similar defined contribution retirement savings plan —90%

Roth 401(k) or similar defined contribution retirement savings plan 55%

Traditional defined benefit pension plan (open to all employees) 24%

Traditional defined benefit pension plan 11%

Supplemental executive retirement plan (SERP) 9%

Defined benefit cash balance pension plan 7%

Employer match for traditional 401(k) or similar defined contribution retirement savings plan —76%

Employer match for Roth 401(k) or similar defined contribution retirement savings plan —40%

Automatic escalation of salary deferral amounts for defined contribution plans 19%

Defined contribution plan catch-up contributions 70%

Defined contribution plan hardship withdrawals 61%

Defined contribution plans that offer target-date funds in their investment lineup 45%

Defined contribution savings plan loans  45%

Permit conversion of funds in traditional 401(k) account into Roth 401(k) account 31%

In-plan annuity option 9%

Defined contribution savings plan debit card  3%

Assistance for retirees to purchase an out-of-plan annuity with in-plan assets 2%

Investment retirement advice offered online 50%

Individual retirement investment advice offered one on one 48%

Retirement-preparation specific planning advice 44%

Investment retirement advice offered in a group/classroom 41%

Informal phased retirement program 13%

Formal phased retirement program 6%

Working environment

Casual dress (any type) 85%

Casual dress day (one day per week) 59%

Casual dress (every day) 44%

Casual dress (seasonal) 27%

Telecommuting (any type) 62%

Telecommuting on an ad-hoc basis 59%

Telecommuting on a part-time basis 35%

Telecommuting on a full-time basis 23%

Flextime 57%

Flextime during core business hours 54%

Flextime outside of core business hours 31%

Mealtime flex 45%

Break arrangements  36%

Compressed workweek 29%

Shift flexibility 25%

Seasonal scheduling16%

Four-day workweek of 32 hours or less per week 13%

Job sharing 11%

Alternating location arrangements 7%

Results-only work environment (ROWE) 5%

Family and care

Dependent care flexible spending account 67%

Domestic partner benefits for opposite-sex partners 25%

Domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners  24%

Onsite lactation/mother’s room 42%

On-ramping programs for parents re-entering the workforce 9%

Adoption assistance 9%

Lactation support services (consulting and education) 8%

Foster care assistance 3%

Onsite vaccinations for infants/children 3%

Onsite parenting seminars 2%

Breast milk shipping while on business travel 1%

Bring child to work in emergency 29%

Child care referral service 17%

Subsidized child care program 4%

Access to backup child care services 3%

Nonsubsidized child care centre 3%

Subsidized child care center 3%

Babies at work 2%

Consortium child care centre <1%

Elder care referral service 13%

On-ramping programs for family members dealing with elder care responsibilities  7%

Access to backup elder care services 2%

Geriatric counselling 2%

Elder care assisted living assessments 2%

Elder care in-home assessments 1%

Onsite elder care fairs 1%

Subsidized cost of elder care <1%

Soft benefits

Break room/kitchenette 93%

Free coffee 80%

Snacks and beverages (company-paid) 22%

Onsite cafeteria (unsubsidized) 17%

Onsite cafeteria (fully or partially subsidized by the company) 16%

Prepared take-home meals 3%

Company paraphernalia 64%

Annual company outing 64%

Community volunteer programs 42%

Take your child to work day 20%

Organization-sponsored sports teams 14%

Pets at work 8%

ESL (English as a second language) classes 5%

Executive club memberships 5%

Foreign language classes (non-English) 4%

Self-defense training 44%

Take your pet to work day 3%

Take your parent to work day 1%

Legal assistance/services 26%

Postal services for employees 14%

Onsite convenience store —12%

Electric vehicle charging station —9%

Travel planning services 9%

Dry cleaning services 8%

Concierge services 3%

Onsite haircuts 2%

Cash and employee rewards

Service anniversary award 54%

Incentive bonus plan (executive) 51%

Employee referral bonus 48%

Noncash companywide performance awards 46%

Spot bonus/award 45%

Incentive bonus plan (nonexecutive)  44%

Sign-on bonus (executive) 35%

Shift premiums 33%

Sign-on bonus (nonexecutive) 25%

Retention bonus (executive) 18%

Retention bonus (nonexecutive) 15%

Safety bonus/incentive —14%

Employee stock purchase plan 10%

Restricted stock options 8%

Incentive stock options (ISOs) 8%

Nonqualified stock options 6%

Stock appreciation rights (SARs) 3%

Credit counselling service 12%

NEW! Identity theft protection (company-paid) 9%

Low-/no-interest loans to employees for nonemergency situations 7%

Personal tax services 3%

Employee discount on company services 34%

Free/discounted uniforms 33%

Discount ticket services 31%

Donations for employee participation in charitable events 28%

Company-purchased tickets 23%

Matching employee charitable contributions 20%

Employer-sponsored personal shopping discounts 18%

Professional memberships 89%

Professional development opportunities (any type) 87%

Offsite professional development opportunities 83%

Onsite professional development opportunities 72%

Certification/recertification fees 78%

Professional license application or renewal fees 76%

Cross-training to develop skills not directly related to the job 44%

Executive or leadership coaching 43%

Formal mentoring program  22%

Career counseling 16%

College selection/referral 11%

Rimbursement and expenses

Reimbursement for taxicab or car service to and from the airport 87%

Parking reimbursement at the airport while on business travel —87%

Mileage reimbursement for the use of a personal car to travel to and from the airport 80%

Travel accident insurance 40%

Rental car upgrades 15%

Per diem or reimbursement for meals 76%

Paid minibar snacks at the hotel 9%

Employee keeps hotel points 66%

Paid Internet access while on business travel 59%

Reimbursement for personal telephone calls while on business travel 36%

Paid dry cleaning while on business travel 14%

Paid pay-per-view movies at the hotel 4%

Paid health club fees while on business travel 4%

Employee keeps frequent flyer miles 65%

First or business class airfare for international travel 14%

First or business class airfare for domestic travel 12%

Paid airline club membership 3%

Paid travel expenses for spouse 2%

Paid travel expenses for dependent children 1%

Paid travel expenses for opposite-sex domestic partner 1%

Paid travel expenses for same-sex domestic partner 1%

Paid child care expenses while on business travel 1%

Paid pet care expenses while on business travel  1%

Paid elder care expenses while on business travel 1%

Relocation lump sum payment 29%

Temporary relocation benefits 20%

Location visit assistance 15%

Reimbursement of shipping fees 13%

Cost-of-living differential 12%

Third-party relocation plan 7%

Assistance selling previous home 7%

Rental assistance 6%

Reimbursement of closing costs 5%

Spouse relocation employment assistance 5%

Reimbursement of realtor fees 5%

Housing counselling 5%

Home insurance programme 4%

Reimbursement for financial loss sustained from a home sale 3%

Down payment assistance 3%

Renter insurance programme 3%

Mortgage assistance 2%

Home buyout programme 2%

Insurance and contributions

Mortgage insurance 1%

Preferred provider organization (PPO) 85%

Health maintenance organization (HMO) 34%

Consumer-directed health care plans (CDHPs) 23%

Point of service (POS) 21%

High-deductible health plan (HDHP) that is not linked to an HSA or an HRA 19%

Exclusive provider organization (EPO) 9%

Indemnity plan (fee-for-service8%

Full replacement consumer-directed health care plan (CDHP)  4%

Mini-med health plan 2%

Medical flexible spending accounts (FSAs) 65%

Health savings account (HSA) % 55%

Health care premium flexible spending account 40%

Employer contributions to HSAs 36%

Health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) 20%

Prescription drug coverage bundled with medical insurance 95%

Mail-order prescription program 85%

Wholesale generic drug program for injectable drugs 31%

Pharmacy management 18%

Experimental/elective drug coverage 9%

Dental insurance 96%

Vision insurance 88%

Employee assistance program (EAP) 77%

Critical illness insurance 32%

Cancer insurance (separate from critical illness insurance) 28%

Hospital indemnity insurance 22%

Long-term care insurance 22%

Intensive care insurance 18%

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance (AD&D)I 81%

Long-term disability insurance 72%

Short-term disability insurance 65%

Supplemental accidental death and dismemberment insurance (employee- or employer-paid) 63%

Supplemental short-term disability insurance (employee- or employer-paid)  55%

Supplemental long-term disability insurance (employee- or employer-paid) 49%

Supplemental accident insurance 33%

Accident insurance 29%

Mental health coverage 81%

Chiropractic coverage 77%

Acupressure/acupuncture medical coverage 38%

Health care services such as diagnosis, treatment or prescriptions provided by phone or video 34%

Retiree health care coverage 19%

Alternative/complementary medical coverage 17%

Reimbursement for employees to travel abroad for medical care and/or reimbursement

for employees to obtain medical care abroad 6%

Contraceptive coverage 75%

Infertility treatment coverage other than in-vitro fertilization 26%

In-vitro fertilization coverage 24%

Egg freezing for nonmedical reasons 3%

Bariatric coverage for weight loss (e.g., stomach stapling or gastric bypass surgery) 32%

Laser-based vision correction coverage 26%

Genetic testing coverage for diseases like cancer 18%

Elective procedures coverage 12%

Gender reassignment surgery coverage 10%


SHRM members can download this research report and many others free of charge at shrm.org/research. If you are not a SHRM member and would like to become one, please visit shrm.org/application.

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