darts on targetThe Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has determined that more employers increased the availability of benefits to employees who improve their health in 2012. Over the last five years, the percentage of employers offering health coaching has spiked from 33 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2012 while those offering rewards for reaching wellness and health goals increased from 23 percent to 35 percent during the same period.

“Employers recognize that providing employees with the opportunity to improve their health can increase morale, confidence and productivity,” Mark J. Schmit, vice president of research at SHRM, said. “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 survey found that most employee benefits stabilized in 2012 but nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said that the economy had negatively impacted their companies benefit offerings. This is largely unchanged from 2011 when 77 percent reported the same thing. Due to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many employers have shifted health benefits so that employees gain most of the responsibility and control over their chosen plans. In fact, 92 percent of employers offered defined contribution retirement savings plans than defined benefit pension plans (21 percent) this year.

“By shifting primary responsibility in controlling certain healthcare and financial benefits, employers are recognizing a shift in workplace culture,” Schmit said. “The new plans allow employees have more control over how they save for retirement and manage their health, while reducing costs for employers. These plans are also more flexible, and thus more attractive, to employees who will likely not spend an entire career with one organization.”

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