With the low unemployment rate giving job seekers the advantage, attracting and retaining talent remains a major focus for employers, according to findings from Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.’s 2018 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey. In fact, 60 percent of those surveyed named it their No. 1 operational priority—a sharp contrast to the 37 percent of employers who ranked controlling benefit costs as the top priority. And nearly half (45 percent) of employers chose not to increase employee cost sharing of healthcare benefits.

“While keeping a lid on costs is always important, we are seeing a clear shift in the market as employers are having to compete more aggressively for talent in the face of the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years,” said William F. Ziebell, president, Gallagher Employee Benefits Consulting and Brokerage. “Today’s workforce is comprised of five very different generations, meaning it is no longer good enough to simply offer standard medical coverage and a competitive retirement plan.”

To better meet the diverse requirements of a multigenerational workforce without substantially increasing costs, employers are adding choice and flexibility through voluntary benefits, life insurance coverage and related options:

  • 22 percent now offer employees a choice of three medical insurance plans, and 13 percent offer four or more options.
  • 46 percent provide tuition assistance.
  • 70 percent provide access to employee assistance programs.
  • 55 percent provide a telemedicine component that allows employees to virtually connect with clinicians.
  • 62 percent offer employees access to financial advisers, while 47 percent provide financial-literacy education to help employees make better saving and spending decisions.
  • 43 percent are taking steps to gauge employee retirement readiness.
  • Employers are also offering benefits like flu shots, tobacco cessation programs, health risk assessments and biometric screenings to encourage employees to live healthier lifestyles.

About the 2018 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey: From January to April 2018, 4,241 organizations across the U.S. responded to more than 300 questions covering the total compensation spectrum.

Additional survey results can be found at www.ajg.com/NBS-2018.