Economy Slowing, but Benefits Growing

Hewitt Associates, the global management consulting and outsourcing firm, has released a survey of 1,020 major U.S. employers, showing that in spite of the recent downturn in the economy, companies are increasing their focus on providing work/life benefits to employees.

Companies surveyed included 85 percent of the Fortune 100 and 58 percent of the Fortune 500 companies.

According to the report, the programs that have experienced the most growth over the past year include:

  • On-site personal services
  • Group purchasing discounts
  • Personal/professional growth programs and stipends
  • Financial education/planning
  • Child care
  • Elder care
  • Flextime

The report showed the following benefits in place at U.S. companies:

  • Child Care Assistance - available at 91 percent of companies. Benefits include dependent care spending accounts (offered by 89 percent of employers), resource/referral services (43 percent), sick/emergency child care programs (16 percent).
  • Personal/Professional Growth Programs - available at 78 percent of companies. Benefits include education reimbursement programs (77 percent), on-site and off-site developmental seminars/workshops, and career counseling.
  • Flexible Scheduling Arrangements - available at 73 percent of companies. Benefits include flextime (58 percent), part-time employment (48 percent), work at home options (29 percent), job sharing (28 percent), compressed work weeks (21 percent), and summer hours (12 percent).
  • Casual Dress - available at 66 percent of companies. Benefits include full-time casual dress (43 percent), casual Fridays (15 percent), summer or special occasion casual dress.
  • On-Site Personal Services - available at 57 percent of companies. Benefits include ATMs, banking services, travel services, and dry cleaners.
  • Elder Care Programs - available at 49 percent of companies. Benefits include resource/referral programs (34 percent) and long term care insurance (20 percent).
  • Financial Security - available at 41 percent of companies. Benefits include financial planning and scholarship programs.
  • Group Purchasing/Discounted Purchases - available at 39 percent of companies. Benefits include reduced-price entertainment and travel, group auto insurance (24 percent), and group homeowners insurance (23 percent).
  • Adoption Benefits, including reimbursement plans - available at 32 percent of companies. The average maximum reimbursement is $3,209.

The Hewitt survey, Work and Life Benefits Provided by Major U.S. Employers in 2000, is available for $100 from Hewitt Associates, 100 Half Day Road, Lincolnshire, Illinois 60069, (847) 295-5000, or e-mail specbook@hewitt.com.

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