The landscape is abuzz with reports on the importance of benefits in attracting and retaining employees.

To help bosses recognise the most popular benefit packages in the market in the past five years, Human Resources picked out five interesting trends in employee benefits based on the 2015 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey.

Firstly, the report showed that the percentage of organisations that offer health care and wellness benefits has increased.

Some of these benefits included mental health care coverage (91%), contraception coverage (83%) and vision insurance (87%).

The increased cost of health care in recent years has also led in a shift in health care costs to employees with an 8% increase in the use of health savings accounts (HSAs) (43%) and a 10% increase in employer contributions to HSAs (30%) over the past five years.

Secondly, companies have been offering preventive health and wellness benefits – one of the strategies to bring down the cost of health care benefits.

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Some perks under this category include wellness resources and information (80%), general wellness programmes (70%), health and lifestyle coaching (46%) and preventive programmes specifically targeting employees with chronic health conditions.

Thirdly, there has been an increase in monetary related benefits such as financial and compensation benefits and retirement savings and planning benefits.

More organisations have been seen to offer spot bonuses/awards (34% in 2011 and 45% in 2015) as well as non-executive incentive bonus plans (43% in 2011 to 49% in 2015).

At the same time, more organisations are offering Roth 401(k) or similar defined contribution retirement savings plan (31% in 2011 to 48% in 2015) and retirement-preparation specific planning advice (37% in 2011 to 48% in 2015).

Fourthly, there has been an increase in several leave benefits since 2011 such as paid sick leave plans (37% to 42%), paid family leave (25% to 27%) and paid maternity leave (16% to 21%).

Despite this however, fewer organisations are offering paid vacation leave donation programmes (15% to 8%) and a paid vacation cash-out option (16% to 8%).

Lastly, as compared to 2011, there has been a decline in the provision of certain family-friendly benefits such as bringing children into work in emergencies (33% to 22%), child care referral services (17% to 9%) and on-site parenting seminars (4% to 1%).

Apart from these trends, the survey noted a few interesting new benefits in this year’s report. These benefits included, egg freezing for non-medical reasons (2%), paid surrogacy leave (5%), company-provided fitness bands/activity trackers (13%), company-organised fitness competitions (34%) and company-provided student loan repayment (3%).

Image: Shutterstock

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