A look at less common benefits may offer a glimpse of the future

      

When it comes to compensation and benefits, we’ve all seen studies that tell us about prevailing trends.

But sometimes it’s interesting to look at the practices that are still far from prevalent – just in case they might foreshadow what’s coming down the pike.

With that thought in mind, you can find some particularly interesting nuggets in the results of the latest benefits survey published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The survey examines employee benefit offerings in the United States – based on input from 463 organizations.

For example, the section on preventative health and wellness benefits confirms what we likely already know.

Wellness programs have become quite wide spread. Some 80% of respondents indicated they make wellness resources and information available to employees. And 70% offer general wellness programs.

Among the modestly prevalent wellness benefits, we find such items as:

  • Health and lifestyle coaching (46%)
  • Smoking cessation program (44%)
  • Preventative programs specifically targeting employees with chronic health conditions (40%)
  • Rewards or bonuses for completing certain health and wellness programs (40%)
  • Company-organized fitness competitions/challenges (34%)
  • Weight loss program (33%)
  • Off-site fitness membership subsidy/reimbursement (32%)
  • On-site fitness center (21%), and
  • Nutritional counseling (20%).

Then we find the wellness benefits that aren’t especially prevalent – but still, some organizations are offering them:

  • Company-provided fitness bands/activity trackers (13%)
  • On-site massage therapy services (11%)
  • On-site medical clinic (8%)
  • Fitness equipment subsidy / reimbursement (6%)
  • On-site stress reduction program (5%)
  • On-site vegetable garden (5%), and
  • On-site nap room (2%).

While less than 1% of respondents indicated they planned to introduce a nap room in the next 12 months, 3% were planning to implement on-site massage therapy services and on-site stress reduction programs. And 1% indicated plans to create an on-site vegetable garden.

Of course, it likely isn’t altruism – or even the desire for fresh tomatoes – that’s driving the evolution of wellness benefits.

Notes SHRM: “As the costs of health care continue to spiral upward, employers are searching for ways to keep these costs under control and as manageable as possible. Preventative health and wellness benefits are designed to help maintain or change employees’ behavior in order to achieve better health and decrease associated health risks.”

Generous – and innovative – benefits can also enhance an organization’s ability to attract and retain talent. Such benefits resonate with employees for two key reasons:

  • Employees want to work for an organization that cares about them. Dollars and resources aimed at helping employees maintain or improve their health is a good way of demonstrating organizational concern for employee well-being.
  • For many people, maintaining good health – or addressing a health challenge – is very important. When organizations go the extra mile to help employees address their health and well-being through wellness-related programs, they demonstrate alignment with – and sensitivity to – their employees’ priorities.

By demonstrating both care and support, organizations that emphasize employee wellness can create a positive work climate, making it easier to recruit and keep talent.

Of course, company-provided activity trackers and on-site massage therapy services won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

And some types of wellness benefits won’t be feasible in certain environments.

Some organizations just don’t have the space or resources to deliver an on-site fitness center or an on-site medical clinic.

But still, it’s interesting to consider what might be possible if we push the envelope a bit.

The types of benefits organizations offer will continue to evolve. And if we look at what’s happening at the fringe today, we may just get a glimpse of the future.

In the meantime, we’re off to the garden. Or perhaps we’ll go later, after a nap.

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