MRA: Employer Associations of America 2011 National Policies & Benefits Survey shows employees win some and lose some benefits

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Waukesha, Wis. – MRA – The Management Association released the results of the Employer Associations of America National Policies & Benefits Survey of over 2,300 companies nationwide shows employees retain health benefits, but lose ground in other employer-sponsored benefits.

“Given the deep cuts in recent years, we weren’t sure how severely benefits would be impacted. In spite of the serious recession, we find that employers have retained most benefit plans in order to remain competitive,” said Mary Lynn Fayoumi, CAE, SPHR, GPHR, and representative of the Employer Associations of America.

Health and Welfare Benefits Improve Overall

Overall, employers made minor changes to health and welfare benefits offered compared to the previous study in 2009. Employer contributions to preferred provider organizations (PPOs) dropped less than 1% compared to 2009. PPOs remain the most popular health insurance design. The number of employers offering single coverage plans fell slightly from 78.6% to 78.1% and family coverage dropped from 69.6% to 69.4%

Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) are up from 11 to 13% of employers offering. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) saw significant growth with a shift from 16 to 23% of employers offering these accounts.  “There is a trend of more employers offering consumer-driven health plans with high deductibles. This approach helps reduce costs and engage employees in making smart health care choices,” said Bonni Yordi, Ph.D., Director, Surveys and Business Research for MRA.

Corresponding with the increase in state legislation legalizing civil union, benefits for domestic partners continue to become more prevalent.  In 2007, 17% of employers offered domestic partner benefits as compared to 2009 with 21% and 2011 with 25%. 

Paid Time Off More Popular

Paid Time Off (PTO) plans continue to increase in popularity.  In 2011, 31% of employers pool paid time off in a combined benefit format. This is up from 27% in 2009 and only 24% in 2007.

Retirement Benefits Trimmed

On the downside, there are fewer organizations with guaranteed matches to 401(k) contributions.  In fact, there has been a 10% decrease (from 58.6% to 48.8%) in those following a strict formula, while more have moved to a discretionary match as budgets allow.

Employee Relations Feel Cuts

Another area targeted for cuts is organization-sponsored activities. In the past two years employers that offer activities like holiday parties, annual picnics, and golf and retirement parties fell from 71% to 67%.

Holding steady at 78%, employee access to the Internet has not changed.  However, 6% more employers are now using blocking mechanisms to limit access to specific sites.  And, only 35% allow access to social media sites at work.

Survey Information

The Employer Associations of America’s data reflects national conditions.  EAA surveyed 2,300 companies: 49.6 percent were from manufacturing, 13.5 percent from wholesale/retail trade, financial and real estate, 29.9 percent from service, and 7.1 percent from other industries.  The survey also represents all sizes of companies, from 1-100 employees (49 percent), 101-500 employees (40.7 percent) and over 500 (10.3 percent). The survey data was collected in August through October of 2010.

Contact MRA to obtain detailed breakouts at [email protected] or (800) 488-4845.

Founded in 1901, MRA is a not-for-profit employers’ organization serving more than 4,000 employers throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa, covering close to a half million employees.  An expert in the optimization of human resources, MRA helps companies recruit, develop and retain a powerful workforce. For more information on MRA visit or call 800.488.4845.