Are Benefits the New Wages?


Take a look at any of today’s headlines, and you will find HR issues that affect our employees, our organizations and the entire profession. The minimum wage debate continues to rage at the state, local and federal levels. The clash between new and traditional employment models is becoming sharper and more politicized (think: Uber vs. the taxi industry). And landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions on health care and marriage also have implications for us and the way we do our jobs.

One recent Bloomberg headline, in particular, caught my eye: “Benefits Are the New Salary.” The article, based in part on SHRM’s 2015 Employee Benefits survey, reported our finding that 35 percent of organizations have increased the number of benefits they provide to workers over last year. What has not been on an upward trajectory is workers’ pay. Government data show that employee earnings have been stagnant for the past five years.

Should HR professionals and employers be just as concerned that benefits are increasing while wages remain flat? Is it an either/or proposition? Or is the Bloomberg analysis of SHRM research correct? Are benefits, in fact, the new wages?

Read this month’s issue of HR Magazine for my thoughts on this question.

Many issues of the day are HR issues. Let’s use our human capital expertise to guide our organizations through the current debates and to demonstrate the value and perspective that only HR can bring to business.                                                                                                                                                      

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