Recession's Impact on Employee Benefits Lingers

A recent study of the types of benefits U.S. employers offer to their employees, Examining Employee Benefits Amidst Uncertainty, found that the recession has significantly impacted employee benefits. The study, conducted annually by the Society of Human Resources Management, found that as companies struggle to remain competitive in recruiting and retaining top talent, employees have been bearing greater financial responsibility for benefits such as retirement and health care plans. Key findings of the 2011 study include:

  • Nearly 75% of surveyed human resources practitioners report a negative impact on benefits due to the economy, up from 70% in 2010.
  • Ninety-three percent of respondents' employers offer defined contribution pension plans, compared with only 22% that offer defined benefit pension plans.
  • Health savings accounts are becoming more prevalent while HMO plans continue to decline in popularity.
  • In the past five years, 25% of employers have offered housing and relocation programs (e.g., assistance selling previous home, cost-of-living differential, spouse relocation assistance), a decrease from 42% in 2007.
  • Though employers may see a $6 gain on a $1 investment in wellness programs, the number of companies offering such programs has remained flat, at around 59%.

One offering showing a gain in popularity is workplace flexibility benefits: More than 50% of respondents' companies offer flex time (up from 45% in 2010), and 20% offer full-time telecommuting, up from 17 % in 2010.

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Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.