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Employee Benefits Show Little Change from 2006

Employee benefits remained relatively stable from 2006 to 2007, despite a slight decrease in the percentage of organizations offering some financial and compensation benefits, according to the Society for Human Resources Management’s (SHRM) 2007 Benefits Survey.

The most commonly offered benefits were:
  • Direct deposit of paychecks
  • Paid holidays
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Payroll deductions
  • Prescription drug program coverage
  • Dental insurance

Additionally, almost all organizations offered some type of health insurance plans. The SHRM study also noted that with a few exceptions, organizations with a greater number of employees were more likely to offer any given benefit than those with fewer staff. HR professionals indicated that their organizations spent an average of 38% of payroll on total benefit costs: 20% of the costs were due to mandatory benefits and 18% due to voluntary benefits.

HR respondents indicated they planned within the next year to include pro-active wellness programs such as weight loss programs (5%), smoking cessation programs (6%), health screening programs (5%), and a health-care premium discount for getting an annual health-risk assessment (6%).

Other findings:

  • Overall, 41% of HR professionals indicated that their organizations offered some form of domestic partner benefits (opposite-sex partners, same-sex partners or both).
  • 38% of HR professionals reported that their organizations offered health-care benefits for dependent grandchildren, and 29% offered health-care benefits for foster children.
  • For the seventh consecutive year, dependent care flexible spending accounts was the most commonly offered family-friendly benefit. Seventy-six percent of HR professionals indicated that their organizations offered dependent care flexible spending accounts to allow employees to set aside pretax dollars that can later be reimbursed for dependent care expenses.

Cell phone, pager and/or handheld device for personal use was the only financial and compensation benefit that was offered by more organizations in 2007 compared with 2006.

The following benefits decreased in 2007 from 2006:

  • Automobile allowance/expenses
  • Individual investment advice
  • Traditional defined benefit pension plan
  • Full flexible benefits plan
  • Retirement planning services
  • Employee discount on company services
  • Commission and loans to employees for emergency/disaster assistance

While most benefits remained the same in 2007 from 2006, the study did show some noteworthy benefit fluctuations:

  • Vision insurance increased from 73% to 79 % (down from 80% in 2005).
  • Transit subsidies increased 13% to 16% at the same time that auto allowances/expenses decreased 60% to 49%.
  • Telecommuting programs increased from 26% to 33% for part-time; 45% to 48% for ad hoc; and 19% to 21% for full time.
  • Fitness center membership subsidy/reimbursement dropped from 37% to 30%.
  • Programs for employees to bring a child to the office in emergency situations increased from 22% to 29%.
  • Programs for a weekly casual dress day increased from 62% to 66%, at the same time that daily casual business attire decreased 38% to 37%.
  • Traditional pension plan programs (guaranteed pay based on years of service) decreased 48% to 40%.
  • HR respondents said that 70% of their organizations in 2007 provided an employee prenatal program in comparison to 82% in 2006.

The surveys to HR professionals employed by companies in the U.S. were e-mailed to randomly selected SHRM members, and yielded 590 responses.

A complete copy of the survey is available at www.shrm.org/surveys