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SHRM’s 2023 Employee Benefits Survey: What Brokers Should Know 

The 2023 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey shares the latest trends in employee benefits by capturing feedback from HR professionals and employers. Though the research reflects only a sampling of the most sought-after offerings, the data provides a benchmark for brokers to use when helping clients choose future benefit plans.

Among the results are traditional benefits which remain top priority for employers with a few, newer ones to take note of as they grow in popularity. To take the guesswork out of what’s best for small- and medium-sized business (SMB) clients, brokers who work with professional employer organizations (PEO) can customize a benefit solution and adapt to changes as they come. Here are a few employee benefit mainstays and ways they’re evolving to meet current demand.

Health-related benefits have not lost their value. In fact, 89% of employers include them as an important part of their plans. The value of a company’s health insurance plan is one of the most compelling reasons why job candidates might choose one company over another. However, providing health insurance has become an “assumed” benefit, meaning employees expect it upon hire.

Preferred provider organization (PPO) plans are the most common type of health plan offered (82%), though high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) linked to a health savings account (HSA) have increased in popularity to 64%. Yet, health benefit plans aren’t necessarily limited to these traditional structures. 25% of employers now offer fertility treatment and family-forming benefits, including in vitro fertilization, as well as coverage for services like weight loss surgery (28%) and weight loss programs (20%). Considering a company’s demographic and specific needs will help guide which direction may be most beneficial.

Retirement savings and planning are a close second

SMBs are still focused on including retirement savings plans as part of their compensation packages. Survey results show 94% of employees continue to offer a 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) for their employees. And, of the employers with a defined contribution plan, 84% offer a matching contribution with the average maximum percentage salary match equaling a little over 7%.

Per the survey, half of employers automatically enroll eligible employees in a retirement plan. And this percentage will go up as updates to the SECURE Act 2.0 take effect over the next few years. Automatic employee enrollment in retirement plans will become a requirement for all (unless the employee expressly defers), and new regulations will also extend retirement benefits eligibility for part-time workers starting in 2025.

Leave benefits extend beyond PTO

Nearly all employers include some type of paid time off (PTO) benefits. Survey results show 99% of employees have paid vacation, and 95% offer sick leave. Since these benefits are common among most companies, PEO brokers can explore other types of PTO benefits to help their clients stay competitive.

Paid and unpaid family care leave continues to trend upward with 33% and 83% of employers offering it, respectively. Moreover, with mental health being prioritized in recent years, one in five companies now designate paid mental health days outside the scope of the general PTO bucket.

Employers in 2023 are also providing extended leave for new parents. A growing number of employers offer maternity leave (40%), paternity leave (33%), adoption leave (34%), and foster child leave (25%). And there are more benefits extending to pet members of a family as well, with 19% of employers now offering pet insurance as part of its full benefits package.

Flexible work arrangements become the norm

After being forced into at-home work arrangements in 2020, it turns out many employers and employees prefer the option. Data shows 70% of employers consider it an important benefit with 62% offering at least hybrid work opportunities for employees. Additionally, over half of employees (54%) allow flex time during core business hours, and 1 in 10 employers are pivoting to a four-day workweek. These numbers are continuing to fluctuate as businesses determine what works best for them both operationally and from a recruiting standpoint.

These only reflect a snippet of the range of benefits highlighted in the survey and available to employees, plus the variety of factors employers must consider when curating the most attractive plan. It’s not enough to keep pace with benefit trends. There must be intimate knowledge of client needs to anticipate changes and make recommendations. PEO brokers have the advantage of being connected with HR customization people seek so highly now.

Tailoring a benefit solution with a PEO

With the wide range of benefits available, who’s to say which is the best? A catch-all solution cannot satisfy the needs of all clients, and therefore, requires a personalized approach to maintain success.

A PEO like ExtensisHR stays ahead of all industry trends to make calculated decisions while providing a personalized approach to secure what’s best for each client. With access to premium benefits typically reserved for larger companies, ExtensisHR also gives SMBs an extra edge for recruiting and retaining talent.

In addition to benefit management, ExtensisHR delivers HR guidance and support, payroll and tax administration, risk and compliance services, and talent management and recruiting. The full suite of services is maintained by proprietary technology to streamline and optimize performance. As a result, SMBs can focus fully on company growth and delegate all HR responsibilities to a trusted PEO.

By connecting clients with a customized HR solution, brokers help to strengthen their relationships and portfolio. At ExtensisHR, we support the needs of our PEO brokers to deliver optimal outcomes for everyone. Contact our team of HR experts today to learn more.

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