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Benefit trends highlighted in 2007 HR survey


More human resource professionals plan to include proactive wellness programs in employee benefit packages within the next year, but traditional defined benefit retirement plans are becoming scarcer, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management.

According to the survey released Monday at SHRM's annual meeting in Las Vegas, 68% of members' companies currently offer wellness programs, up from 66% in 2006 and 62% in 2005.

An increase in employers offering smoking cessation and weight loss programs also was noted. This year, 40% of employers are offering assistance to employees who want to kick the tobacco habit, up from 39% in 2006 and 34% in 2005. This year, 32% of employers are offering to help employees lose weight, up from 29% in 2006 and 25% in 2005.

While more employers are offering preventive health benefits, fewer employers are offering traditional defined benefit pension plans, the SHRM survey discovered.

Just 40% of HR professionals responding to the survey said their employers offered such plans this year, down from 48% in 2006 but up slightly from 39% in 2005. By comparison, 83% of respondents reported their companies offering a defined contribution plan this year, up from 81% in 2006 and 2005. Moreover, 74% of those professionals said their companies made a matching contribution to these retirement plans this year, about the same percentage as in 2006.

Automatic enrollment in defined contribution plans was offered by 32% of employers in the latest survey, an increase from 30% in 2006 and 2005.

Conducted since 1996, SHRM's annual survey culls information on the types of benefits employers offer and identifies year-to-year trends. In addition to health and pension benefits, information also is provided on housing, personal service, financial, travel and leave benefits.

This year's survey, conducted by an e-mail sent to randomly selected SHRM members, yielded 590 responses.

The complete study is available free of charge only to SHRM members at