The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released the 20th anniversary edition of its annual benefits survey on June 20th at the SHRM 2016 Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C. The survey looks at the popularity of various benefits and highlights statistically significant differences between the results of this year’s survey and results from last year, five years ago, and the initial 1996 survey.


This year’s survey comes from the responses of HR professionals SHRM randomly selected from its 275,000 member database. SHRM sent emails to 25,000 members, and 3,490 of these individuals completed the survey. Most respondents represented organizations with 1 to 99 employees (46%) or 100 to 499 employee (36%). 53% of respondents worked at privately owned for-profit organizations, and 86% had non-union workforces.


The survey found that over the last 20 years, the three biggest changes in employee benefits were

  1. The rise of telecommuting (20% to 60%)
  2. Offering professional memberships to employees (65% to 88%)
  3. Wellness resources such as informational tips, worksite programs, and onsite vaccinations (54% to 72%)

Nearly all respondents offered health care coverage to full-time employees (98%), dependent children (97%), and opposite-sex spouses (94%). Fewer employees offered coverage to same-sex spouses (83%), despite last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Only 31% of respondents offered coverage to part-time employees working less than 30 hours per week. 10% of these employers required their part-time employees to pay the full cost of coverage.

As for the types of health plans offered by employers, preferred provider organization (PPO) plans remain the most popular. 84% of respondents reported that their organizations offer a PPO. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) grew in popularity since last year (43% to 50%).

32% of respondents also reported that their organizations contribute to employee HSAs. 20% of respondents offered health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). Only 17% of respondents reported offering a high deductible health plan (HDHP) that is not linked to either an HSA or (HRA).

The full report and an executive summary are available on SHRM’s website.