New Employee Benefits Survey Ranks Healthcare at the Top

As businesses across the nation return to a new post-pandemic normal, evolving employee benefits practices – such as hybrid work models – remain highly important to both employers and employees. However, according to the 2022 Employee Benefits Survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), businesses now rank healthcare as the most important benefit offered to workers.

During the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic, previous SHRM surveys found that employers ranked health, leave and flexible work benefits as most important to the workforce. In comparison, the 2022 survey shows that employers rank healthcare as more important today than before the pandemic due to the role benefits play in fostering employee well-being and retention.

According to the survey, employers offering mental health coverage in 2022 hit a new high of 91 percent since the COVID-19 pandemic.  Benefits such as telemedicine and telehealth also showed significant upward movement. Following healthcare benefits, retirement and leave benefits were ranked jointly at number two.

Although the importance ratings of many employee benefits changed dramatically during the height of the pandemic, businesses are now ranking them in a more typical order of importance. Notably, a key finding is that all benefits are now individually viewed as more important for businesses to offer than they were prior to the pandemic.

Here are highlighted findings from select benefit categories of the SHRM 2022 Employee Benefits Report. The results are based on a survey of 3,129 participant members of SHRM who were asked about what employee benefits their organizations are offering during plan year 2022.

Healthcare Benefits

  • 93 percent of organizations offer telemedicine or telehealth as a benefit to their workers, up 20 percent since 2019.
  • One in five employers offer mental health days above and beyond regular sick leave.
  • 98 percent of businesses offer some type of health coverage, with 72 percent offering a fully-insured health plan and 26 percent offering a self-insured plan.
  • Medical flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) remain the most popular type of health-related spending accounts, with 63 percent and 57 percent of employers offering them, respectively.
  • 63 percent of businesses offering an HSA make employer contributions to these plans, which is the lowest prevalence since 2018, when 64 percent said they offered this benefit.

Family Leave

  • 82 percent of employers say leave benefits remain very important, even after the initial adjustment to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Despite ranking highly, leave for new parents (beyond what is required by law) has returned to pre-pandemic levels of prevalence after reaching the highest prevalence in 2020.
  • Compared to 2020, businesses offering paid maternity leave dropped to 35 percent (from 53 percent) and the number offering paid paternity leave dropped to 27 percent (from 44 percent).
  • Compared to 2020, the number of employers offering paid adoption leave dropped to 28 percent (from 36 percent) and the number offering paid foster child leave dropped to 22 percent (from 28 percent).
  • Employers seem to be dialing back on expanded parental leave opportunities since returning back to more normal operations.

Other Types of Leave

  • Nearly all employers offer paid vacation leave (99 percent) or paid sick leave (96 percent), with 67 percent offering a bank of paid time off that covers both vacation and sick time.
  • Paid open or unlimited leave continues to be rarely available, with only 6 percent of businesses offering this benefit.
  • 20 percent of organizations offer paid mental health days separate from regular sick leave.

Family Care

  • 59 percent of employers offer a dependent care flexible spending account, which allows employees to save funds directly for expenses related to caregiving.
  • 31 percent of organizations allow employees to bring children to work in an emergency as a benefit.

Flexible Work

  • 63 percent of employers offer most of their workers the opportunity to adopt a hybrid work model, which involves a combination of working both remotely and in person.
  • 62 percent of businesses offer employees a subsidy or reimbursement for at-home office or work equipment, totaling $891 on average.
  • 68 percent of employers offer a subsidy or reimbursement for costs related to general office supplies like pens or notepads, and 24 percent cover the cost of chairs for employees working from home.

Overall, the SHRM survey indicates that businesses have a key opportunity to attract and retain employees, as well as improve the quality of their lives, through employer-sponsored benefits that protect their physical, mental and economic health.

Pacific Federal is a Zenith American company and subsidiary of Harbour Benefit Holdings, Inc.