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June 21, 2018

The Evolution of Employee Benefits: Key Takeaways from SHRM’s 2018 Survey

Hot off the HR presses from its debut at this week’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference & Exposition, the 2018 Employee Benefits Survey, administered by SHRM in February and March of this year, shows a serious uptick in the prevalence of expanded employee benefits offerings in workplaces across the country.


The key findings are manifold, but the main takeaway is this: attracting and retaining top talent is going to take innovative benefits incentives, particularly in areas like health and wellness, professional and career development and flexible work and leave policies.


The data speaks for itself, and it’s saying evolve or be left behind.


LEAF looked at some of the key findings from employees who are vocal about their benefits requirements, and what employers are doing to accommodate them.


Key Findings

  • 34% of surveyed organizations increased their benefits offerings in the last 12 months, and 72% of them listed retention as the reason.
  • 58% of them used this benefits expansion to attract new talent and 54% did so as a response to employee feedback.

The 34% of organizations who increased benefits expanded offerings in the following areas:


 Benefit Area

 Percent Increase in Offerings

 Health-related benefits




 Employee programs and services


 Professional and career development benefits


 Leave, family-friendly and flexible working benefits



Designing a Strategic Benefits Package

One relatively unchanged benefit, student loan repayment, is being offered by just 4% of the companies surveyed, despite growing data establishing it as a highly sought-after offering for Gen-X, Baby Boomer and Millennial members of the workforce who are buried by student loan debt.


SHRM notes a lack of frequent assessment and communication about benefits opportunities might be to blame for the slower evolution of financial wellness benefits like student loan repayment:


Designing a strategic benefits package based on various tools, such as an assessment of the types of benefits valued by employees, benchmarks against competitors and keeping up-to date with innovative benefits is just the beginning of a successful benefits program. How benefits are communicated to talent may be the difference in whether a program is successful in impacting recruitment and retention, has no effect, or is even detrimental. As the economic climate continues to improve, organizations must frequently assess and communicate their benefits to effectively leverage their programs to recruit and retain top talent.


As it stands, numerous studies show that financial wellness is directly tied to employee productivity and the company’s return on investment. And with a 44% increase in organizations offering expanded wellness benefits, it’s only a matter of time before this key wellness indicator—financial security—has a permanent seat at the benefits table.  


LEAF’s Takeaways

Once we’re back from the SHRM Conference, we’ll be sharing a few of our own key findings and releasing a fresh white paper on the Landscape of Higher Education Benefits.

Stay tuned to the Insights Blog so you can read more about how signing up with LEAF helps companies win the talent war by making financial  wellness benefits a staple in strategic benefits packages.

In the meantime, take a look at some of our other white papers and eBooks:






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