Robust Benefits Package Essential in War for Talent, SHRM Survey Finds

Health care, retirement savings and planning, and paid leave are among the most important benefits to employees

November 30, 2016
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In today’s competitive war for talent, employers are turning to and bolstering their benefits packages to give them an edge over competitors, a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey report released today showed. 

According to the report, 95 percent of HR professionals rated health care as one of the three most important benefits to employees. Other top rated employee benefits included retirement savings and planning (71 percent) and leave (50 percent). 

Nearly 1 in 5 HR professionals (19 percent) said their organizations had altered their benefits program to aid in the retention of employees at all levels of the company over the past 12 months.  HR professionals at high tech companies were more likely to indicate their organizations altered their benefits program to aid in retention than those in other industries (25 percent vs. 17 percent). 

About one-third (30 percent) indicated that controlling health care costs was their organization’s main strategic focus for its employee benefits package; just over one-quarter (27 percent) indicated their focus was ensuring employees understood the value of their benefits package. 

“As the war for talent wages on, employers will need not only to ensure that they are strategically utilizing benefits to secure talent, but that employees understand the value of their benefits package,” said Evren Esen, SHRM’s director of workforce analytics. 

“Health care, retirement and leave benefits are all highly valued by employees, so bolstering these benefits could go a long way in recruiting new employees and retaining existing ones,” Esen explained. “But the rising cost of health care adds complexity to the strategy. Employers are going to have to continue to articulate their choices.” 

Other survey report findings included the following: 

Assessment and Communication of Benefits
• Just 14 percent of HR professionals indicated that employees are “very knowledgeable” about employer-sponsored benefits; about two-thirds (69 percent) said employees are “somewhat knowledgeable.” 

Health Care
• About three-quarters (74 percent) of companies have not considered providing subsidies to purchase health care insurance through a private exchange. 
• Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of organizations anticipated an increase in their company’s total health care costs between the 2015 and 2016 plan years; one-third anticipated an increase of over 10 percent.

Flexible Work Arrangements
• Over one-half (56 percent) of organizations provided employees with the option to use flexible work arrangements. 
• HR professionals at high-tech companies were more likely to indicate their organizations provide employees with the option to use flexible work arrangements than those in other industries (76 percent vs. 46 percent).

• About three-fourths of organizations that had wellness initiatives in place indicated they were “somewhat” or “very effective” in improving overall engagement of employees (74 percent).
• Almost one-half (48 percent) of companies indicated their wellness initiatives decreased their health care costs; 42 percent noted a decrease in unplanned absences and 30 percent an increase in work productivity.

SHRM surveyed 738 HR professionals from a randomly selected sample of its members throughout the United States.

Media: For more information or to request an interview, contact Vanessa Hill at and 703-535-6072 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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