The HR & Payroll Resource Center is your integrated, comprehensive source for HR and Payroll information that merges news, analysis, and guidance – including custom answers,...
June 30 --Employers are increasingly turning to wellness programs to counteract rising health care costs, according to the 2015 Society for Human Resources Management Employee Benefits Survey, released June 29 at SHRM's 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas.
Employers are learning that by targeting the most common chronic diseases--heart disease, diabetes and obesity--wellness program can have the greatest return on investment, Evren Esen, director of SHRM's survey programs, said June 29 at a press briefing at the conference.
The survey of 463 HR professionals found that the majority of employers are offering wellness benefits to manage chronic diseases and other health-related issue; offerings include wellness resources and information (80 percent) and wellness programs (70 percent). The survey also found that health and lifestyle coaching, smoking cessation programs and premium discounts for getting an annual risk assessment have increased in the past five years.
While wellness programs have quickly become one of the most effective ways to reduce health care costs for employers, Esen warned, the programs will not immediately decrease costs. “It takes time, and it takes a well-designed program,” she said. However, in addition to cost reduction, wellness programs can provide new avenues for employees to be better engaged with the organization and therefore less likely to leave for another employer, she added.
Five-year trends show a slow shift of health care costs to employees, the survey said. For example, it found that consumer-directed health plans such as health savings accounts have risen by 8 percentage points and employer contributions to HSAs have increased by 10 percentage points.
The survey further revealed five-year trend increases in the percentage of organizations offering mental health coverage, contraception coverage, vision insurance, short-term disability insurance, critical illness insurance and coverage for laser-based vision surgery.
The survey also found:
• the most common benefits offered are paid holidays (98 percent), dental insurance and prescription drug programs (both 96 percent), mental health coverage and professional memberships (both 91 percent), and organization-provided break room/kitchenette and traditional 401(k) or similar defined contribution retirement savings plan (both 90 percent);
• the shift to defined contribution retirement savings plans and Roth 401(k) savings plans continues, with only about a quarter (26 percent) of organizations reporting that they now offer defined benefit pension plans that are open to all employees;
• the most commonly offered women’s health benefit is contraceptive coverage (83 percent);
• three out of five (60 percent) employers offer some form of telecommuting, with 56 percent of respondents reporting that their organizations offers telecommuting on an ad-hoc basis, 36 percent part of the time, and 22 percent on a full-time basis; and
• the three family-friendly benefits that have decreased over the last five years are bringing children into work in an emergency (22 percent), child care referral services (9 percent) and on-site parenting seminars (1 percent).
Benefits that can help employees’ financial health are gaining popularity as well, according to the survey.
Employees in difficult financial situations experience decreased productivity job performance, Esen said. “It’s really in the best interest of employers to help employees with their financial decisions about investments,” she said.
To that end, employers are increasingly offering resources to help employees plan for retirement, to help first-time home buyers and to educate workers on pension benefits.
In the past year, Esen added, 24 percent of employers, compared to 2014’s 17 percent, offered financial advising benefits to employees.
Employers should consider their employee demographics when deciding benefits offerings, Esen recommended.
For example, she said, egg freezing is a high-cost benefit that is only offered at 2 percent of organizations. Those companies that offer it, however, are almost entirely in the technology industry, including Apple, Facebook and Google, Esen said. They have found that the cost of providing the benefit is worth it in order to retain their top female talent, she added.
Other emerging benefits reported by survey participants include medical travel for health care, company-sponsored fitness competitions and challenges in the workplace, wearable fitness technologies, and car charging stations.
To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at firstname.lastname@example.org
The survey is available at http://www.shrm.org/research/surveyfindings/articles/pages/2015-Employee-Benefits.aspx.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)