The Employers’ Association publishes benefits report

Survey provides HR leaders, employers with ‘critical’ benchmarking data for policy decisions.
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The Employers’ Association has released an annual report designed to provide employers with “critical benchmark comparisons” from which to base their internal practices.

The Grand Rapids-based human resource organization’s 2020 Policy, Practices & Benefits Survey, which has been conducted annually for over 45 years, represents data provided by 135 West Michigan organizations and details what benefits are being offered within eight major categories, including compensation, time away from work, leave of absence, insurance plans, benefits, working conditions, recruitment and development, and health care and medical plan costs.

Maggie McPhee, director of information services for TEA, said under each of those are a minimum of four to eight sections, for a total of 41 topics covered across the eight categories.

The survey was conducted beginning in February and was published April 9.

“It’s a survey for our members, and we do invite one or two other groups in with us, such as (Society for Human Resource Management) chapters, per their request,” she said.

The survey revealed more organizations have changed to paid time off (PTO) plans from separate vacation and personal time plans (51% in 2019 to 69% in 2020), the change being driven primarily by Michigan‘s Sick Leave Act that went into effect last year.

“In order for people to comply with that, it was just a whole lot easier for them to change their separate vacation and personal sick time to a PTO bank,” McPhee said.

This year’s report was expanded to include more comprehensive information about turnover numbers as well as harassment and discrimination policies.

Ninety-nine percent of companies said their employee handbook contains a policy for harassment and discrimination, including sexual harassment, 74% said they had conducted harassment training for all employees, and 32% said they had done so within the past six months, with 28% having done so in the past year, and 20% having conducted the training in the past two years.

The report also expanded to include more comprehensive information about electronics policies, including asking employers who issues the laptops and cellphones, how they are monitored, what the teleworking policies state, and how those devices are retrieved after an employee leaves the company. 

In past years, health care and medical plan costs were addressed in a separate survey, but those topics were folded into the Policy, Practices & Benefits Survey this year, and the health care section was revised to include medical benefits data as a percentage of total compensation (13%). The report reveals there was minimal change in the cost of medical plan premiums.

McPhee noted the survey was conducted before COVID-19 hit the U.S. and thus does not reflect any possible changes in responses due to the pandemic.

Other key findings

  • 98% find that employee referral programs are most effective for recruitment.
  • 74% seek to set their compensation programs at or slightly above “market” rates.
  • 58% have a business continuation plan for emergencies (probably more now).

Survey demographics

Geographic region

Metro Grand Rapids — Grand Rapids/Wyoming/Grandville/Kentwood/Walker: 52%

West/lakeshore — Holland/Zeeland/Grand Haven/Nunica/Jenison/Hudsonville/Marne: 33%

North — Rockford/Belding/Greenville/Sparta: 4%

East/south — Ada/Lowell/Caledonia/Dutton/Byron Center/Middleville/Hastings: 5%

Up north/Lower Peninsula — Traverse City/Cadillac/Evart/Hersey/East Jordan: 1%

Other — 5%

Company size

1-99 employees: 47%

100-250 employees: 29%

250-499 employees: 15%

500-999 employees: 5%

1,000 or more employees: 4%

Industry type

Manufacturing durables: 46%

Manufacturing nondurables: 10%

Wholesale/distribution: 7%

Sales/service/retail: 4%

Nonprofit: 10%

Professional/financial/insurance/technology: 7%

Medical/health care: 2%

Government: 1%

Other (majority construction and engineering): 13%

McPhee said as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the current business environment, organizations all over the country are re-examining how they do business. She said the detailed report can help ensure HR teams and employers remain competitive through the most cost-effective means.

A new feature this year allows employers to request an HR audit based on their responses to the survey for a lower cost than if they did not participate in the survey and had to respond to a separate audit questionnaire, McPhee said.

For more information or to order the report, employers can contact Maggie McPhee at mcphee@teagr.org, Marla Holzapfel at mholzapfel@teagr.org or The Employers’ Association at teagr.org.

Founded in 1939, TEA a not-for-profit organization that provides human resource solutions to member employers and the community at large, including research and information; learning and development; organizational development; networking; and talent management.

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