HRE’s number of the day: benefit reductions

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16: Percentage of employers that say they’re considering cutting benefits

Approximately 4% of employers have already dropped an insurance benefit as a result of COVID-19 and 16% are considering doing so, according to new LIMRA research. The research and consulting group surveyed 1,123 private employers with 10 or more employees that offer either insurance or retirement benefits for results.

What it means to HR leaders

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a number of companies to make benefit changes. Although many have relied on existing benefits or added new offerings to help employees through the pandemic, financial strains caused by COVID-19 also are causing many employers to make, or consider making, benefit reductions.

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“For employers considering dropping benefits, this is almost certainly due to financial challenges due to businesses needing to temporarily close, operate at reduced capacity, or just earning less money due to changing consumer behavior during the pandemic,” says Kimberly Landry, assistant research director, workplace benefits research at LIMRA.

Landry adds that most companies are “hoping to avoid benefit reductions” as much as possible, though the lingering pandemic and associated economic impacts may cause more to do so.

Still, many HR leaders are seeing success by adding benefits to help workers through the crisis, as well as leaning on existing benefits.

Related: How voluntary benefits are changing due to COVID

About 25% of employers say COVID-19 has made them more interested in making changes to their insurance benefit programs within the next 18 months, and 40% of employers say the coronavirus outbreak has affected their views of the importance of benefits. There’s especially an increased interest in some supplemental non-insurance benefits, particularly telehealth services, mental health benefits and employee assistance programs, Landry notes.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.