More employers are offering benefits that encourage employees to improve their health in 2012, according to a survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) at its 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition in Atlanta. Over the last five years, benefits that reward employees for improving their health have jumped – a sign that organizations recognize employees value these benefits and are looking for ways to cut business costs. For example, the percentage of employers offering health and lifestyle coaching jumped from 33 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2012, and rewards or bonuses for completing a health and wellness program increased from 23 percent in 2008 to 35 percent in 2012.
“Employers recognize that providing employees with the opportunity to improve their health can increase morale, confidence and productivity,” said Mark J. Schmit, vice president of research at SHRM. “Organizations continue to look for ways to manage costs as the economy slowly improves. Benefits that encourage healthier behavior are a cost effective way to keep up employee morale, while healthier employees also help decrease healthcare costs to employers and employees.”
- The five most common benefits in 2012 are: paid holidays (97 percent); prescription drug program coverage (97 percent); dental insurance (96 percent); defined contribution retirement savings plans (92 percent); and mail-order prescription programs (91 percent).
- Paid time off plans have become more popular: More than half of organizations (51 percent) provide paid time off plans, a combination of traditional vacation time, sick leave and personal days in one plan, up from 42 percent in 2009.
- Domestic partner benefits: A third of employers (35 percent) offer health care coverage to same-sex domestic partners, and 32 percent offer it to opposite-sex domestic partners. Fifteen percent provide domestic partner benefits, not including health care coverage, for opposite-sex partners, and the same percent offer the benefit to same-sex partners.
- Health care premium discounts for healthier behavior are on the rise: Health care premiums discounts for getting annual health risk assessments rose from 11 percent in 2008 to 21 percent in 2012, while discounts for not using tobacco products increased to 20 percent this year from 8 percent in 2008.
- Pets at work: Six percent of organizations offer pet health insurance, 5 percent allow pets at work, 1 percent pay for pet care expenses while an employee is traveling for business, and 1 percent have a “Take Your Pet to Work” day.
The annual benefits survey asks HR respondents about their organizations’ employee benefits in 12 sections: business travel, employee programs and services, family-friendly, financial and compensation, flexible working, healthcare and welfare, housing and relocation, leave, preventive health and wellness, professional and career development, retirement savings and planning, and other.
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About Colonial Life
Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing insurance benefits for employees and their families through their workplace, along with individual benefits education, advanced yet simple-to-use enrollment technology and quality personal service. Colonial Life offers disability, life and supplemental accident and health insurance policies in 49states and the District of Columbia. Similar policies, if approved, are underwritten in New York by a Colonial Life affiliate, The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, Worcester, Mass. Colonial Life is based in Columbia, S.C., and is a subsidiary of Unum Group, one of the world’s leading providers of employee benefits. For more information about Colonial Life’s products and services or opportunities with the company, call (803) 798-7000 or visit ColonialLife.com.
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