In 2019, employers are increasingly making diversity and inclusion initiatives and education assistance for employees part of their total rewards offerings, according to new research by WorldatWork.

Its annual inventory of total rewards programs and practices, which surveyed more than 700 U.S. employers, found the percentage of organizations offering employees some form of education assistance — through scholarship, student aid or loans — increased substantially, from 10 per cent in 2018 to 26 per cent in 2019.

The percentage of employers now offering diversity and inclusion efforts also grew, from 58 per cent in 2018 to 65 per cent in 2019.

Read: Will Canadian companies follow U.S. trend towards student loan assistance?

Recognition programs are also on the rise, with appreciation luncheons, outings and formal events up from 76 per cent in 2018 to 81 per cent in 2019 and major family event celebrations jumping from 27 per cent to 38 per cent.

Initiatives to support parents also increased. Some 57 per cent of survey respondents now offer paid parental leave, up from 52 per cent. And adoption reimbursement increased from 20 per cent to 26 per cent. In addition, 26 per cent of employers now offer college scholarships for their employees’ children, up from 20 per cent last year.

Other trends on the rise in 2019 include onsite fitness centres (from 52 per cent to 58 per cent), immunization clinics or promotions (79 per cent to 84 per cent), self-development tools (80 per cent to 84 per cent) and leadership training (84 per cent to 88 per cent).

Read: How workplace fitness can improve employee productivity

“The breadth of total rewards has become increasingly diverse and expansive, in ways that would astonish workers from previous generations,” said Scott Cawood, president and chief executive officer of WorldatWork, in a press release. “In this tight job market where competition to recruit top talent across all levels is fierce, organizations are responding to the changing needs and desires of the workforce with a multitude of total rewards options. For example, with pay equity a hot button issue, diversity and inclusion initiatives to help address pay gaps are becoming more prevalent.”

However, some programs are on the decline. The most notable drops included hiring bonuses (70 per cent to 41 per cent), personal leave (70 per cent to 43 per cent) and elder-care resource and referral services (67 per cent to 38 per cent).

Read: Evaluating the value of employee assistance programs

Many of the programs that are less frequently offered are pay-based, including across-the-board pay increases (23 per cent to 17 per cent), individual performance-based incentives (68 per cent to 63 per cent), cost-of-living pay adjustments (20 per cent to 16 per cent) and employee stock ownership plans (13 per cent to nine per cent).

Teleworking also experienced a slight decline, with 73 per cent of employers offering it in 2019, down from nearly 78 per cent in 2018.

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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