In 1996, the Society for Human Resource Management set out to gage the state of employee benefits. Now, 20 years later, SHRM's original "Innovative Benefits Survey" has followed the changes driven, in many cases, by recruiting and retention as talent markets have stiffened.
Writing for the SHRM blog, Evren Esen, SHRM's director of workforce analytics, reports that the gross tally benefits programs in 1996 has skyrocketed when compared to today's count – going from just 60 benefits in '96 compared to 344 benefits covered in SHRM's 2016 Employee Benefits Research Report.
Esen writes that while the prevalence of so-called core benefits is about the same (health care coverage via PPO or HMO is still offered by about 90% of companies, as in 1996), the big change is in is the different types of health care coverage beyond the traditional HMO/PPO plans, including coverage for dental, vision, mental health and chiropractic care, as well as health reimbursement accounts, health savings accounts and other consumer-directed plans.
Other stable benefits include prescription drug coverage, employer assistance programs, medical flexible spending accounts and long term care insurance, as well as paid vacation, retirement preparation planning and wellness programs such as smoking cessation programs and weight loss programs.
So where are the most dramatic changes? SHRM found that telecommuting of any type zoomed from 20% in 1996 to 60% in 2016, wellness resources and information from 54% to 72%, and an increased focus in the area of professional development marked by higher employer-paid professional memberships (65% to 88%) and professional development opportunities (75% to 86%).