Glance at a Century of Benefits

As the year closes, Hewitt Associates, a leading human resources management consulting firm, looks at the benefit programs and legislation that shaped the 20th century. Many of these programs significantly changed the workplace and transformed it into what we know today.

ERISA. The Employment Retirement Income Security Act is enacted to protect benefits promised to employees. Uncle Sam takes the role of primary regulator of private-sector employee benefit plans including health plans, retirement plans and other benefit programs.

Pension Plans. Although American Express implemented the first corporate pension plan in 1875, it took a good 25+ years for the idea to really catch on. From 400 in the early 1900s to 693,000 today, pension plans are a popular benefit for employees.

Managed Care. From a humble beginning in the 1970s as the Nixon administration searched for more efficient, affordable medical care, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) experienced record growth in the mid-1980s. During that time, HMOs increased by 28.9 percent. Today, 85 percent of employees are enrolled in some form of managed care.

ESOP. Employee Stock Ownership Programs were created as an incentive for employees to share in a company’s financial performance. Now, more than 9 million employees take part in ESOPs.

Time. The compensation of the millennium is time. Employees demanding balance between work and home prize time and treat it like gold. Flex-time, job sharing and other alternative work schedules are sure to be at the top of the compensation package for companies in the next century.


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