SHRM Survey Finds Health and Wellness Offerings Help Drive Continued Increase in Benefits Provided to Employees

Non-health related offerings, such as employee programs and services, also increased

June 19, 2018

CHICAGO, June 19, 2018 — As a tight job market continues to help drive increases in employee benefits offered by organizations, health and wellness along with employee programs and services are the benefits most likely to be increased, according to the results of the 2018 Employee Benefits Survey released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The survey results indicated that more than one-third (34 percent) of organizations increased their overall benefits in the last 12 months. When employers added offerings, they were most likely to increase health-related benefits (51 percent) and wellness benefits (44 percent).

Retention (cited by 72 percent of respondents) and recruiting (58 percent) were the top reasons for increasing benefits, the survey found.

"With unemployment at an 18-year low, employers view benefits as a strategic tool for recruiting and retention," said Trent Burner, SHRM's vice president of research. "Strategic organizations adjust their benefits year-to-year, depending upon their use by employees, cost and effectiveness in helping an organization stand out in the competition for talent."

Wellness benefits are popular offerings. Three-quarters (75 percent) of employers offer wellness resources and information and/or a general wellness program.

Over the last year, substantial increases were seen in company-organized fitness competitions/challenges (from 28 percent in 2017 to 38 percent in 2018).  The prevalence of CPR/first aid training increased 7 percentage points (47 percent to 54 percent) and standing desks increased from 44 percent to 53 percent.

The availability of paid parental leave increased significantly between 2016 and 2018 for every type of parental leave surveyed. Paid maternity leave increased from 26 percent in 2016 to 35 percent in 2018. Paid paternity (21 percent to 29 percent), adoption (20 percent to 28 percent), foster child (13 percent to 21 percent) and surrogacy (6 percent to 12 percent) leave also increased from 2016.

In top offerings not related to health, employee programs and service benefits increased by 39 percent at organizations that increased benefits offerings in the past 12 months.

For instance, 50 percent of organizations allow casual dress every day, up 6 percentage points since last year. Several other benefits increased over the last five years, including free coffee, company-provided snacks and annual company outings.

SHRM's annual survey of U.S. employers examines more than 300 benefits that organizations offer their employees. Other key findings include:

  • Preventive programs specifically targeting employees with chronic health conditions fell by 8 percentage points (from 33 percent in 2017 to 25 percent in 2018).
  • A substantial increase was seen for life insurance for dependents with over two-thirds of organizations (70 percent) offering this benefit in 2018, an increase of 13 percentage points since 2017.
  • Sixty-three percent of organizations give service anniversary awards, an increase of 9 percentage points from 2017.  
  • More than two-thirds (70 percent) of organizations offer some type of telecommuting, up from 62 percent last year.

The survey of 3,518 randomly selected HR professionals was conducted in February and March of this year. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. 

The full survey is available online at

Trent Burner, SHRM's vice president of research, will moderate a panel discussion, Benefits in the Workplace: An Update and Competitive Practices for Impact in 2018 at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, June 19, as part of the 2018 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition.

For more surveys/poll findings, visit Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research. 

Media: To request an interview, contact Sundra Hominik of SHRM Media Relations at Sundra.Hominik and 703-535-6273 or Kate Kennedy at and 703-535-6260. 

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world's largest HR professional society, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries. For nearly seven decades, the Society has been the leading provider of resources serving the needs of HR professionals and advancing the practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SHRMPress. 



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