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July 07, 2004
Benefits the Same or Slightly Better This Year, SHRM Reports
In 2004, employers have maintained or slightly increased most of their benefits, according to survey results from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

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SHRM conducts an annual benefits survey, taking a comprehensive look at everything a company might offer--healthcare benefits, family-friendly benefits, housing benefits, personal-service benefits, financial benefits, travel benefits, and leave benefits in particular. All information is compared by size of organization, industry type, and trends over the past five years.

This year's survey involved 459 HR professionals and covered 217 benefits. It also featured a special section on leave benefits, addressing average days of vacation based on years of service, number of paid days for new parents, number of leave days that can be rolled over annually, and qualifications for bereavement leave. Among the findings:

  • The average number of paid vacation days for new employees is 9 days; 14 days for employees with 5 years of service; 17 days for 10 years of service; and 19 days for 15 years of service.

  • Employers who offer paid leave for new parents report an average of 25 days for paternity leave; 31 days for adoption leave; and 41 days for maternity leave.

  • Of those who allow roll over of unused leave, 27 percent of organizations allow employees to roll over 21 or more days of leave annually; 20 percent allow 11-20 days; and 18 percent allow 6-10 days to be rolled over.

  • 88 percent of respondents report offering paid bereavement leave to employees who have lost immediate family; 60 percent for other relatives; and 5 percent for friends.

Family-friendly benefits have leveled off or increased slightly from last year in most categories, according to SHRM. Telecommuting on a part-time basis is offered by 36 percent of respondents and telecommuting on a full-time basis is offered by 19 percent, both up 2 percent from last year. Compressed workweeks are offered by 34 percent, up 3 percent from last year.

Large organizations (500 or more employees) are more likely to offer most family-friendly benefits than medium (100 to 499 employees) or small (99 or fewer employees) organizations. Yet, small organizations (41 percent) are more likely to allow bringing a child to work in an emergency than medium (23 percent) or large (16 percent) organizations.

SHRM notes that providing benefit packages that help recruit and retain key employees are costly. In fact, it says, the percentage of salary reflecting the costs of voluntary benefits is higher in 2004 than it was in 2003 for 34 percent of survey respondents.

"Employers know that offering competitive, attractive benefits packages is a key tool in recruiting and retaining great employees," said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM. "In the eight years we've been conducting our benefits survey, we have seen fluctuations that reflect changes employers have made to remain competitive in response to the overall economy. HR professionals create tailor-made benefits packages that meet the specific needs of their workforce and the goals of their organization."

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