US benefits survey


US benefits survey

Corporate America maintained or slightly increased most benefits, from health care to family-friendly benefits, in the past 12 months, according to results from the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) 2004 Benefits Survey

"Employers know that offering competitive, attractive benefits packages is a key tool in recruiting and retaining great employees," said Susan R Meisinger, president and CEO of SHRM.  "In the eight years we've been conducting our benefits survey, we have seen fluctuations that reflect changes employers have made to remain competitive in response to the overall economy. HR professionals create tailor-made benefits packages that meet the specific needs of their workforce and the goals of their organisation."

Holiday entitlement

New to this year’ s survey is a special section on leave benefits.  Average days of vacation based on years of service, number of paid days for new parents, number of leave days that can be rolled over annually, and qualifications for bereavement leave are addressed in this section. 

  • Average number of paid vacation days for new employees is nine days 14 days for employees with five years' service 17 days after ten years and 19 days after 15 years.
  • Employers who offer paid leave for new parents report an average of 25 days for paternity leave 31 days for adoption leave and 41 days for maternity leave.
  • 88% of respondents report offering paid bereavement leave to employees who have lost immediate family 60% for other relatives and 5% for friends.

Family-friendly benefits

The SHRM found that family-friendly benefits have "levelled off or increased slightly" from last year in most categories:

  • Telecommuting on a part-time basis is offered by 36% of respondents and on a full-time basis by 19%, both up 2% from last year. 
  • Compressed workweeks are offered by 34%, up 3% from 2003.

Want to know more?

Title: 2004 Benefits Survey, Society for Human Resource Management.

Methodology: The survey of 459 HR professionals covers 217 benefits provided by employers and tracks trends over the past five years. It offers a comprehensive look at health care benefits, family-friendly benefits, housing benefits, personal service benefits, financial benefits, travel benefits and leave benefits. All information is compared by size of organisation, industry type, and trends over the past five years.

Availability: SHRM members may access the complete survey online for free at Non-members may purchase the survey by calling the SHRM Store, tel: +1 (703) 548-3440. 

Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management is the "world’ s largest association devoted to human resource management". Representing more than 185,000 individual members, the SHRM's mission is "to serve the needs of HR professionals by providing the most essential and comprehensive resources available". Visit SHRM online at

Posted 1 July 2004