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15 employee benefits on the decline
Thanks to a tightened job market, a number of employers are ramping up benefits in an effort to recruit and retain talent. A number of big companies, including Discover, Walmart, Taco Bell and Kroger, have announced new and enhanced benefits for employees just this year. In fact, according to research from the Society for Human Resource Management, between 2017 and 2018, the prevalence of more than 60 benefits assessed increased compared with just 20 between 2016 and 2017.

See also: 15 employee benefits on the rise

However, not every employee benefit out there has been there on the rise. A number of offerings have declined in prevalence over the last few years — especially for employers looking to better manage benefit costs. Here are 15 benefits that are not as hot as they once were, according to SHRM’s annual survey.
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Preventative programs
Though wellness programs are still very popular among employers, preventative programs specifically targeting employees with chronic health conditions has seen a significant drop in the last five years. The coverage fell by eight percentage points since 2017 (from 33% in 2017 to 25% in 2018) and a whopping 17 percentage points since 2014 (42%).
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Flexible spending accounts
FSAs are not as prevalent as they once were: 63% of employers currently offer the spending accounts, down from 69% in 2015. While they are still more popular than health savings accounts, that may change in the years to come: HSAs are on an upward trend. The number of employers offering HSAs — which offer triple tax benefits for employees — rose just one percentage point from 2017 to 2018 (from 55% to 56%), but has increased by 11% in the last five years.
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Domestic partner benefits
Domestic partner benefits fell by 10 percentage points for opposite sex partners and by nine percentage points for same-sex partners (both to 15%) since 2017.
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Childcare and eldercare referral services
Both childcare (17% in 2017 to 9% in 2018) and eldercare (13% in 2017 to 10% in 2018) referral services fell between 2017 and 2018.
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Onsite cafeterias
Onsite cafeterias that are fully or partially subsidized by the company are on the decline. Twelve percent of employers currently offer the perk, down from 16% in 2017.
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Defined contribution catch-up contributions
The prevalence of defined contribution catch-up contributions — which permit participants who are age 50 or older to make additional elective deferral contributions at the end of the calendar year — has continued to fall over the past five years with 64% of organizations offering this benefit in 2018, down from 76% five years ago.
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Short-term disability insurance
Short-term disability insurance has fallen 10% in the last three years: In 2015, 74% of employers offered the coverage; 64% of employers currently offer it, according to SHRM.
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Incentive bonus plans
Incentive bonus plans fell by nine percentage points for executives (to 42%) and seven percentage points for nonexecutives (to 37%), SHRM reports.
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Sign on bonuses for executives
Sign-on bonuses for executives fell by six percentage points in the last year, from 35% to 29%. SHRM notes of the change: “As competition for talent rises as unemployment falls, organizations may be identifying which types of compensation benefits are the most helpful in recruitment and retention, and subsequently making changes to spend their budgets as wisely as possible.”
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Bariatric coverage for weight loss
Bariatric coverage for weight loss — including stomach stapling and gastric bypass surgery — has fallen in the past five years. While 38% of employers offered such coverage in 2014, 33% now offer it, according to SHRM.
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Onsite health screening programs
Employers who offer onsite health screening programs — for example, screening for employees’ glucose and cholesterol numbers — have declined 17% since 2015. Thirty percent of employers offer these programs currently, according to the latest statistics.
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Employee discounts
Benefits in employee discounts and charity fell in several areas since 2017, including discount ticket services (from 31% to 27%), donations for employee participation in charitable events (from 28% to 24%), company-purchased tickets (from 23% to 20%) and employer-sponsored personal shopping discounts (18% to 12%). SHRM noted the drop “may be due to less value added in terms of effects on recruitment and retention compared with other benefits.”
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Elective procedures coverage
The percentage of employers who cover elective procedures for their employees — defined as any nonemergency surgical procedure other than laser-based vision correction — has dropped over the last five years. In 2014, 15% of employers offered such coverage; 11% now do.
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Housing and relocation benefits
Overall, housing and relocation benefits are among the least common compared with other benefits categories. Since 2014, prevalence rates for several housing and relocation benefits fell, “perhaps indicating that organizations see little if any value added,” SHRM notes. Although the decreases are between just three and five percentage points, given the low prevalence rates of these benefits to begin with, the decreases are quite substantial (between 25% and 60%). For example, 16% of employers say they offer temporary relocation benefits, down from 24% who offered it in 2016.
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Health fairs
The prevalence of corporate health fairs have dropped 10 percentage points in the last three years. Now, 30% of employers surveyed by SHRM say they offer health fairs, down from 40% who did in 2015.
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