The majority of small U.S. employers currently offer at least one health benefit to their employees, according to a new report by business research organization LIMRA.

This is a rise of 11 percentage points compared to the last survey results in 2012. Much of these increases can be attributed to a stronger economy and record-low unemployment, noted the report.

When it comes to specific health insurance benefits, medical coverage is far more prevalent than any other offering. Compared with the 2012 study, this year’s report found small firms are more likely to offer medical, short-term disability and accident benefits, while life and cancer insurance offerings have declined.

Read: Conference coverage: 2019 Employers Cancer Care Summit

The survey also found the number of small employers offering retirement savings plans are at the highest level since 2000, with 43 per cent of respondents saying they offer retirement benefits.

A new trend in workplace benefits is the growth of non-traditional offerings, noted the report, with 58 per cent of small employers saying they provide some type of non-traditional benefit to staff. The most common (45 per cent) is paid time off, such as paid vacation and sick time.

As well, work-life benefits, such as flexible schedules, compressed workweeks or remote working arrangements, are offered by almost 20 per cent of respondents. In contrast, fewer than five per cent said they offer new benefits like financial wellness programs, identity theft protection or genetic testing.

Read: Financial wellness programs boost employee retirement readiness: study

Among the small businesses currently offering benefits, most said they intend to continue to do so. Only two per cent of respondents said they want to drop a health or retirement benefit within the next two years. On the other hand, six per cent said they want to introduce a new health benefit and four per cent said they plan to offer a new retirement benefit.

Of those interested in adding a benefit, 21 per cent said they want to add a medical plan and 19 per cent said they want to add a retirement benefit. In addition, 10 per cent of respondents said they’re interested in adding a dental benefit and five said they’re considering adding life and vision coverage.

The report also found 42 per cent of small employers with benefits believe it’s more important to offer insurance benefits today, while just one per cent said it’s less important. Likewise, 40 per cent of respondents said offering retirement benefits is more important today.

Read: 28% of U.S. employers made changes to health benefits in 2018: survey

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

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