As competition for talent heats up, more companies are not only offering higher salaries, but also boosting their employee benefit offerings, according to a new study.

Nearly 33% of organizations surveyed said they had increased their overall benefits in the last 12 months, a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study found recently. The majority of benefits increases were in health insurance and wellness programs.

On the flipside, only 6% of firms said they had reduced benefits, mostly citing the need to remain financially stable, whether it was due to increasing costs of benefits, economic factors or poor organizational performance.

Despite these numbers, almost all employers surveyed were concerned about the rising costs of group health insurance. From 2016 to 2017, health care insurance costs increased an average of 11% for. In fact, 66% of employers said they were very concerned about controlling health care costs, and another 31% were “somewhat concerned.”

The challenge for employers today is navigating the uncertainty swirling around the Affordable Care Act and dealing with rising insurance premiums. After all, with 91% of employees rating health care benefits as important, managing these offerings and their costs is crucial for employers.

What you can do to optimize your benefits

  1. The SHRM recommends that you:
  2. Conduct employee surveys and look at your participation levels to find out which benefits your employees value most.
  3. Benchmark your survey and analysis results with your industry peers so you can see where you stand in relation to your competition for talent.
  4. Focus on managing benefit costs. Currently, the trend in cost control has focused on health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts (HSAs).

Review how you are communicating your benefits to your employees to make sure they understand the offerings. If you have low uptake of certain benefits, consider reviewing how you are presenting the benefits to your employees and consider a different approach.

Other findings:

  • Although preferred provider organizations remain the most common type of health care plan, more organizations include an HSA component in their health care coverage.
  • 95% of employers now offer health coverage to opposite-sex spouses and 85% offer it to same-sex spouses.
  • 34% of companies offer health coverage to part-time employees.
  • 59% of firms have a general wellness program for their staff.
  • The average employee copay for generic medication was $11, whereas brand medication copays were $33 for formulary and $58 for non-formulary drugs.
  • Employee coinsurance ranged from an average of 27% for generic to 31% for non-formulary brand medication.
  • 85% of organizations offered a mail-order prescription program, which can reduce drug outlays for employees.


This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, but rather perspective on recent regulatory issues, trends and standards affecting health insurance, voluntary benefits, 401(k) plans and other employee benefits. Please consult your broker or legal counsel for further information on the topics covered herein.