Each year, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) performs a survey to collect feedback from HR professionals across America. The SHRM Employee Benefits Survey represents the longest-running annual research report and is used to reveal trends in employee benefits among US organizations across several categories.
In 2022, the Employee Benefits Survey showed a partial return to normalcy after the chaos that ensued during the COVID-19 pandemic that affected many organizations. Since the pandemic, many businesses have made a recovery and are working towards adopting bigger and better benefits for their workforce.
The survey from the SHRM Research Institute, which was conducted from January 11-February 28, 2022, collected responses from 3,129 HR professionals across companies of all sizes. Employers can now use this survey information to gain a better understanding of benefit views and what their top priorities should be moving forward.
Employers Are Expanding and Shifting Key Benefits
Employee benefits have greatly shifted since the start of the pandemic. During the first few months of COVID-19, many employers focused on providing employees with better health benefits, flexible work options, and paid or unpaid leave. During this time, retirement benefits went on the back burner, with many employers choosing to reduce or even eliminate their 401(k) matching contributions.
In 2022, the survey found that key benefits are returning to pre-pandemic times as many organizations reestablish normal operations. One area where most employers can agree is that all benefits types that may have been less important before the pandemic are now being seen as essential to offer today. This change in viewpoint has resulted in an increased appreciation for the role that benefits play in attracting and retaining talent.
A Renewed Focus on Employee Health and Wellness
While nearly all employee benefits are gaining more attention, health and wellness benefits remain a top priority for many organizations. The continuing rise in health concerns since the pandemic has many employers viewing health care as the most important benefit that companies can offer.
Nearly all respondents of the 2022 SHRM survey reported that their organization offers some type of health care plan to employees. According to the survey, 72 percent of businesses offer a fully insured health plan in which they pay out a fixed premium to the insurer which then covers medical claims.
Approximately 26 percent reported that their health plan featured a self-insured insurance arrangement. With this type of plan, the company pays medical claims themselves, typically through a third-party administrator. Self-insured plans can result in significant savings for organizations.
Some of the most popular types of health-related spending accounts were revealed to be health savings accounts (HSAs) and medical flexible spending accounts (medical FSAs). The survey also showed that 63 percent of organizations that offer an HSA make employer contributions to these accounts.
The Benefits Employers Viewed as Most Valuable
The 2022 Employee Benefits Survey revealed what benefits are viewed as most important to businesses. The following percentages represent respondents who saw these benefits as very or extremely important:
- Health-Related Benefits: 88 percent (compared to 90 percent in 2020/2021)
- Retirement Savings and Planning Benefits: 82 percent (compared to 55 percent in 2020/2021)
- Leave Benefits: 82 percent (compared to 83 percent in 2020/2021)
- Family Care Benefits: 70 percent (compared to 76 percent in 2020/2021)
- Flexible Work Benefits: 70 percent (compared to 83 percent in 2020/2021)
- Professional and Career Development Benefits: 65 percent (compared to 37 percent in 2020/2021)
- Wellness Benefits: 46 percent (compared to 62 percent in 2020/2021)
There has also been a noticeable increase in telehealth and mental health care services since the pandemic. While many core benefits have returned to pre-pandemic levels, areas like telehealth and mental health have seen a lasting incline. The survey showed that 93 percent of organizations now offer employees access to telehealth as a benefit. This is an increase of 20 percentage points since it was last reported in 2019 by the SHRM.
Lasting Changes of Views Surrounding Benefits Offerings
Financial security has become a lasting change of views surrounding benefits offerings since the pandemic. The survey showed that employers ranked savings and retirement benefits as some of the most important after losing their ranking for a short period during the pandemic.
In 2022, most organizations offered some type of retirement savings plan to employees. The survey reported that 94 percent of respondents offered a traditional 401(k) plan that is funded with pretax dollars and is taxable as income when funds are withdrawn during retirement.
The survey also revealed that 68 percent of respondents offer a Roth 401(k) to employees, which is funded with post-tax dollars, meaning funds can be withdrawn tax-free once an employee reaches retirement age. Of employees that contributed to Roth retirement accounts, 76 percent of plan sponsors offered a match.
Supporting and Embracing Hybrid Work Environments
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a rise in hybrid work. The survey revealed that 63 percent of employers offered all or most of their employees the opportunity for hybrid work, which combines in-person and remote work.
The flexibility to work remotely at least part of the time has seen great success among many organizations that favor this type of arrangement. Hybrid work has also garnered attention from job applicants and was found to be a motivator for existing employees.
SHRM’s annual survey also showed that 62 percent of organizations offered their employees a reimbursement or subsidy for any work equipment or at-home office supplies that they needed to complete their job duties. On average, employers paid about $891 to employees to cover these types of costs.
Nearly all employers, at 95 percent, covered costs related to work technology, such as computers, keyboards, monitors, and headsets. About 68 percent said they covered costs relating to general office supplies, such as notepads and pens. In addition, 24 percent said they covered the costs of office chairs for employees working from home.
Expanding Benefits to Employees and Their Families
Family-related benefits have seen drastic changes over the last couple of years. Although parental leave benefits were viewed as an important benefit by employers, the benefits offered to new parents returned to pre-pandemic levels after reaching their peak in 2020.
However, help with family caregiving remains an important priority for many employers. The survey showed that 59 percent of organizations offer a dependent care FSA, allowing employers to save money for expenses that relate to caregiving. In addition, 31 percent of employers say they would allow employees to bring their children to work in an emergency.
Get More Info About Benefits Practices From New City
Employer-offered benefits give companies of all sizes the opportunity to give back to their workforce and make a positive difference in the lives of their employees. While the pandemic has had a drastic impact on how benefits have been viewed since 2020, normalcy is returning within organizations, allowing employers the chance to review and improve their benefits packages.
With help from experienced professionals, businesses can create a benefits package that is attractive to job candidates, reduces turnover, and creates a positive brand image. New City Insurance is an employee benefits consulting firm that specializes in benefits consulting, compliance, insurance, and tech services. To learn more or to speak with a benefits consultant, contact the team at New City Insurance.