Majority Reduced or Held Steady Benefits Offerings in Recession

June 29, 2009 ( - The Society for Human Resource Management's 2009 Employee Benefits Survey found that though U.S. employers continue to offer an extensive selection of employee benefits, 60% of HR professionals say the recession has caused their organizations to scale back or hold steady on benefit offerings.

According to a press release, more companies offered a defined contribution retirement plan benefit in 2009 (90%) than 2008 (84%). HR professionals reported fewer organizations offering the executive retention bonus benefit in 2009 (11%) than 2008 (17%).

Among the 52 types of health and welfare benefits offered, mental health coverage was the only benefit in this category to be offered by more organizations in 2009 than 2008 (80% compared with 75%, respectively), the press release said. Overall, the health and welfare benefits category saw a slight decline.

Overall, 16% of HR professionals reported that their company offers some form of domestic partner benefits beyond health care. Specifically, 14% offer family-friendly benefits to same-sex partners and 14% extend the same to opposite-sex partners. For health care, 37% of organizations offer the benefit to opposite-sex domestic partners and 36% offer it to same-sex domestic partners.

A financial literacy program benefit debuted on the 2009 survey, with 12% of surveyed companies offering one.

HR professionals reported fewer companies offering: noncash, companywide performance awards; community volunteer program benefits; and discount ticket services. Also, a number of organizations report plans to reduce or eliminate holiday parties, company picnics, and company-purchased tickets to events during 2009.

In SHRM's 2009 Job Satisfaction Survey , HR professionals (72%) and employees (63%) both place job security at the top of the "very important" aspects of job satisfaction. In addition, both ranked benefits as number two (69% and 60%, respectively).

Compensation (57%), opportunities to use skills and abilities (55%), and feeling safe at work (54%) rounded out the top five for employees, while communication between employees and senior management (66%), opportunities to use skills and abilities (62%), and management recognition of employee job performance (61%) completed the top five for HR professionals.

In addition, according to the press release, SHRM's The Continued Economic Downturn: Employee Perspective poll found:

  • The percentage of employees describing their job as "slightly at risk" rose from 31% in January to 35% in June, while those who believe their job to be "moderately at risk" held steady at 13%.
  • 56% of those still employed reported that it is "very unlikely" they will job hunt once the economy improves, a slight increase from the 51% who reported the same roughly six months ago.
  • Only 10% plan to job search or intensify an existing search when the economy picks up -- a number unchanged from the start of this year.
  • If the economy continues to decline over the next six months of 2009, 35% describe their job as "not at risk" compared with 36% who said "slightly at risk." Seventeen percent reported "moderately at risk" and 11% reported "significantly at risk.

The SHRM surveys can be accessed at .