The reading level for this article is All Levels

Employee benefits are an important part of the employer/employee relationship. The basic concept is an employee works for an organization, adds value to the company and the business provides the employee competitive pay and benefits to reward performance and control employee turnover. Depending on the size of the company, employee benefit packages are all over map from bringing your pet to work to tuition reimbursement for higher education.

I read a recent article about the 21 Workplace Benefits That Are Rapidly Disappearing as organizations are trying to do more with less and attempting to keep fiscally afloat. The article listed benefits that, according to a SHRM survey of 600 HR professionals, shows that 77% of companies report benefits are being affected by the slow recovery and current economic situation.

The two biggest areas where cuts have come have been in health care and retirement because that’s where costs have increased the most,” says Mark Schmit, SHRM research director.

I have to say it was interesting reading this list of benefits because some of them I’ve never heard of and found it fascinating that some organizations offer this type of benefit. Others are standard benefits that are seen at many organizations.

21 Benefits Being Eliminated or Downsized

  • Traditional Pension Plans and Matching Retirement Savings
  • Health Care Coverage for Retirees
  • Long-term Care Insurance
  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
  • Paid Family Leave
  • Adoption Assistance
  • Professional Development Opportunities
  • Life Insurance for Dependents
  • Incentive Bonus Plans For Executives
  • Contraceptive Coverage
  • Casual Dress Day
  • Employee Legal Assistance
  • Sports Team Sponsorship
  • Executive Club Membership
  • Relocation Benefits
  • Help Purchasing a Home
  • Travel Reimbursement Perks like travel insurance, dry cleaning and trip planning
  • The Company Picnic
  • Company Rewards Programs
  • Company Purchased Tickets to Theater or Sporting Events
  • Take Your Child To Work Day

While some of these benefits might be a little excessive, the general premise of downsizing benefits is concerning. Employees commit a large portion of their life to an organization and taking away or reducing benefits can only affect the morale and engagement of employees. Maybe organizations should be thinking about creating an employee benefit strategy and thinking of ways to control costs and minimize the impact on employees. One possibility might be to create a cafeteria type model that allows employees to choose from a catalog of benefits and perks that are important to them and skip over the ones that aren’t. This type of model could help control costs while still offering employees options until the economy turns around and employers have more resources to offer employee benefits.

How has your organization changed benefits the last couple of years? Please comment.

This Business article was written by Patricia Lotich on 10/12/2011

Patricia Lotich is an MBA who is passionate about helping small business owners see their vision come to life by creating infrastructures that support business development and growth through strategic customer focus. She writes for The Thriving Small Business, which provides small business performance consulting services.