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From Menopause Support to Grandparent Leave, Employers Add Benefits to Support Diverse Needs

Older woman fanning herself, indicating menopause symptoms

As company leaders look to support employees during all phases of life and a tight labor market persists, employers are considering more niche benefits like menopause support and grandparent leave, according to the 2024 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey.

SHRM’s findings—gleaned from a survey of 4,529 HR professionals at organizations across all sizes, industries, and sectors—were released June 24 at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2024 (SHRM24) in Chicago.

For the first time since SHRM started its annual benefits survey in 1996, it included menopause-specific support in the data, finding that 17% of employers provide related support, such as counseling and education. Significantly fewer employers, just 2%, offer menopause or menstrual leave above what is already covered by regular sick time.

“With things like menopause, I think it’s becoming more a part of the conversation,” said Daniel Stunes, manager of data monetization with SHRM Data and Insights. “The more comfortable people are talking about it, the more businesses hear about it. And the more businesses hear about it, the more they realize, ‘Maybe we should do something about that.’ ”

Indeed, others in the industry have pointed to menopause benefits as a rising trend. Companies including Microsoft and pharmaceutical firm Sanofi offer menopause benefits for their employees.

A 2023 Bank of America report found that 64% of working U.S. women want menopause-specific benefits. And over the past four years, interest in menopause leave, in particular, has increased by a whopping 1,300%, according to Lensa, an online jobs site.

“Contrasting the cost of replacing employees who are going through menopause versus supporting them, it becomes clear that money spent on adopting initiatives for employees going through this life change is prudent,” said Maria Trapenasso, human capital solutions national practice leader at benefits consultant NFP.

The momentum behind menopause support may get a boost from a bipartisan Senate bill introduced in May that would fund additional federal research into menopause along with physician training and other supports. That bill, Stunes said, could signal increasing attention to menopause as a health care and benefits issue.

Overall, the findings from SHRM’s benefits survey signal that employers are adapting to evolving employee expectations while also choosing empathy and out-of-the-box ways to stand out among competitors.

Currently, 4% of employers offer grandparent leave; 12% offer gender-affirming hormone therapy; and more than one-third of the 91% percent that offer bereavement leave now offer time off for loss caused by a failed pregnancy, surrogacy, or adoption, according to SHRM’s results.

Pet insurance also keeps growing in popularity, with 22% of employers offering the perk, up from 19% in 2023 and 14% in 2022, indicating that organizations are embracing employees’ entire families. And employee assistance programs are now offered by 82% of employers, an all-time high.

“Traditionally, companies would approach benefits from the standpoint of, ‘What is something we can offer that benefits the most amount of people?’ Now we’re at the point of, ‘The vast majority of companies provide health care, mental health care, some kind of leave program, and some kind of retirement program. So, how can I be more competitive in the marketplace?’ ” Stunes said. “That’s when we see some of these specific benefits. If you have this big, long list of extra benefits, some may apply, some may not for employees, but I think that shows you’re trying to reach some of the groups and make a difference.”

Most Important Benefits

While some historically nontraditional benefits are on the rise, according to the survey, employers continue to view such stalwarts as health, retirement, and paid time off as the most essential. Rounding out the top five most important benefits for employers were flexible working (cited by 70% of employers) and family care (67%).

Employers consider health care to be the most vital benefits offering, according to this year’s survey. About 88% of HR leaders said it was “very important” or “extremely important,” with virtually all employers surveyed (97%) offering health coverage to their employees.

Traditional health plans, such as preferred provider organization plans, are the most prevalent, with 82% of employers offering this option. Additionally, 63% of organizations provide high-deductible health plans paired with health savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, or flexible spending accounts.

Tied for the second most important benefits type were leave and retirement savings and planning—81% of HR leaders said those benefits were “very important” or “extremely important.” Those statistics are unchanged from 2023.

Traditional 401(k) or similar defined contribution plans are the most prevalent retirement savings option, with 94% of respondents offering them and 84% of those offering a 401(k) match—the same figures as a year ago. Meanwhile, 73% of employers offer a Roth 401(k) or similar defined contribution plan, up 2 percentage points from 2023 and 10 percentage points from 2020—showing the increasing popularity of such plans. Of those employers, 75% offer a Roth 401(k) match, up from 74% in 2023. The average employer match for traditional 401(k) contributions in 2024 is 6.61%, while the average employer match for Roth 401(k) contributions is 6.50%.

Although the retirement landscape as a whole hasn’t changed much, retirement education has shifted over the past few years: Even as more employers offer formal retirement savings programs, they’re less likely to offer retirement planning or investment advice, whether online, in a group or classroom, or one-on-one. Only 49% of employers provide this benefit in 2024, compared with 58% as recently as 2021.

Average Time Off

Paid vacation, holiday, and sick leave continue to be near-universal benefits, all being provided by 96% or more of employers, the survey found.

For the first time this year, SHRM asked respondents about the average lengths of paid time off for organizations that grant time based on how long an employee has worked at the company. As an example of one service timeframe, for employees with one year of service, SHRM found employers on average offer 12 paid vacation days and10 paid sick leave days, or 15 paid-time-off days, which includes both vacation and sick time.

SHRM’s survey offers a basis of comparison for employers, but paid leave policies, like all benefits, should reflect what is important to an organization’s workforce, said Calven Engstrom, a data sourcing specialist at SHRM.

“It’s really about managing employees’ needs,” he said. “At the end of the day, it's doing what you think would make your employees happy.”

Stunes agreed, saying that when it comes to benefits, HR leaders should try to marry their organization’s needs with those of employees.

“Every employer must make benefits decisions based on their own circumstances,” Stunes said. “But they also have to think about the employees they want and make sure they have benefits that actually match the needs and wants of those individuals they’re trying to source. It's a matter of staying in line with the company’s culture, as well as adapting to changing expectations.”

SHRM members can view the full Employee Benefits Survey results interactive online tool at For an inside look at the findings, don’t miss the “2024 Annual SHRM Employee Benefits Survey Results” session, held both virtually and in-person in Chicago at SHRM24 in person on June 24 at 2 p.m. CT.


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