6 Employee Benefit Trends in 2017 #SHRM17

In this war for talent, it’s more than just employee perks that can drive candidate conversions and retention. Companies are growing and shifting their benefit offerings. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) along with increased health care costs, inflation, and the tightening job market, it driving these changes and trends as companies look for differentiation strategies.

This week during the SHRM Annual Conference, SHRM released the 2017 Employee Benefits Report. While the report is lengthy in excess of 32 pages, the report provides in-depth insights for HR professionals who are looking at changing, updating and adding new benefit programs to their organization some resources and information in terms of trends and expectations for the market and employees.

Six Employee Benefits Trends in 2017

Increase in Standing Desks. Sitting is the new smoking and standing desks are growing in popularity. Standing desk benefits have increased 11% in the last year. This trend will continue to increase in popularity.

Focus on Costs. Companies continue to be cost conscious. Benefits account for 30% of total benefits with health insurance accounting for the largest costs, paid leave, retirement, and savings. Total annual health care costs per employee is averaging $8,669 and account for 8% of operating expenses.

Paid Leave Programs Are Expanding. Companies are continuing to increase the use of PTO versus a sick time and vacation policy. Unlimited PTO continues to grow in popularity, however, offers some compliance and HR challenges when it comes to FMLA.

Flexible Work Is Shifting. Despite what you are hearing from companies like Yahoo and IBM, more companies are offering flexible work schedules and arrangements. Sixty-two percent of companies offer to telecommute and 57% offer flextime. While these are increasing, companies should be looking to providing their managers and leaders with more training and resources on how to best engage, lead and motivate remote workers or those that are dispersed in different offices.

More Employees Can Keep Hotel Points. Nothing stinks more when you travel when you don’t get any personal travel point benefits for staying at your preferred hotel or airline. In the past, companies have opted to keep those points for themselves where they go and how they are used is uncertain. I’d suspect that the CEO might be using them for the annual golf trip or vacation to Belize. That is changing with 66% of companies now allowing employees to benefit from all that travel by keeping the points themselves because who doesn’t love an upgrade.

Virtual Doctor and Health Visits. More healthcare benefit plans are cost conscious and employers look to promoting work-life balance, virtual visits are great employees who need a quick Skype or video diagnosis or a virtual subscription. The concierge trend will continue to grow as people continue to embrace mobile technology and consumer tools like Instacart, Task Rabbit, and other delivery technologies.

Employee Feedback & Insights Essential to Leveraging Employee Benefits

Bottom line you need to look to creative solutions that are cost conscious but are focused on addressing specific challenges and needs expressed by your employees. This can be accomplished by hosting focus group meetings, annual surveys and taking the time to read employee review sites reviews for direction and inspiration on changes.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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  1. Putting the flexible working shift is a great idea, like having a home-based work. Having benefits like this may boost the morale of an employee and have a more productive way for both employee and owner.

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