(Bloomberg) — Wages are still stagnant, yet employers have found something else to help attract and retain employees: health-care benefits. A good insurance plan has become a more vital tool than ever for hiring, according to a recent survey from the Society of Human Resources.
In general, the study found, companies are leaning on benefits to woo current and potential employees. Of the 460 human resources professionals in the survey, 33 percent said that in the last year their organizations used benefits of some kind—ranging from paid leave to wellness programs—to keep employees at all levels from leaving the company. That marks a surge from just 18 percent who relied on benefits to retain staff in 2012.
Of all the perks, however, health care was by far the most frequently used for employee retention. A full 80 percent of HR professionals in the survey cited health benefits, more than retirement and vacation, as a way to keep talent, up from 58 percent in 2012.
“There are ways and combinations that employers can use to make their health-care plans more attractive,” said Evren Esen, director of the SHRM’s survey programs. “A company may offer health-care coverage, but it might not be the best coverage. It might not include certain kinds of benefits such as Lasik surgery or bariatric surgery.” In addition to covering high-cost medical services, like fertility treatments and egg freezing, some companies offer a variety of health plans that a wider swath of employees find more attractive. If the benefits package includes a health savings account, for example, an employer might kick in some seed money to jump-start the fund.