21 Workplace Benefits That Are Rapidly Disappearing

Employers are cutting many benefits and perks, from the traditional pension plan to the company picnic.

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Traditional pension plans, paid family leave, and even the company picnic are all on the decline. Employers have significantly cut many of the benefits they offer to workers over the past five years. Some 77 percent of companies report that benefits offerings have been negatively affected by the slow pace of recovery, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey of 600 human resources professionals. "The two biggest areas where cuts have come have been in health care and retirement because that's where costs have increased the most," says Mark Schmit, research director of the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va. Here is a look at the workplace perks that have significantly declined since 2007.

[See 10 Essential Sources of Retirement Income.]

Traditional pension plans. Traditional pensions were offered at 40 percent of the companies surveyed in 2007. Now just 22 percent of firms provide access to a retirement plan that guarantees payments for life. More commonly offered retirement benefits include 401(k)s and similar types of retirement accounts (93 percent) and Roth 401(k) accounts (31 percent). However, the proportion of companies offering a 401(k) match declined from 75 percent in 2008 to 70 percent in 2011.

Retiree health care coverage. The proportion of companies offering retiree health insurance declined from 35 percent in 2007 to 25 percent in 2011, SHRM found. "Retiree medical plans are costly and the costs have changed over time due to factors outside the employer's control," says Stephen Parahus, a Towers Watson consultant. "More often than not new employees are not on a path that is going to earn them a subsidized employer benefit when they retire."

Long-term care insurance. Just over a quarter (29 percent) of employers provide long-term care insurance for workers, down from 46 percent in 2007. Even fewer employers offer access to an elder care referral service (9 percent), a significant decline from the 22 percent of firms that offered this benefit five years ago.

Health maintenance organizations (HMOs). The number of companies with HMOs decreased from 48 percent in 2007 to 33 percent today. Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) are much more common, with 84 percent of companies offering this type of health insurance plan.

Paid family leave. A third of companies offered paid family leave in 2007, but now only a quarter of companies provide paid time off for births, deaths, and other significant family events.

Adoption assistance. Adoption assistance is another waning employer benefit, with just 8 percent of companies helping with adoption costs, down from 20 percent five years ago. Foster care assistance also declined significantly from 10 percent of companies in 2007 to only 1 percent in 2011.

Professional development opportunities. Don't count on your company paying for you to attend an annual conference or symposium this year. While nearly all (96 percent) companies paid for professional development opportunities in 2007, only 87 percent will in 2011. The proportion of employers offering mentoring programs also decreased from 26 percent 5 years ago to 17 percent this year. "Work development is one of the things that helps train and recruit employees and can only be temporarily cut," says Schmit. "We see dips in it during recessionary times and then we see it come back following those recessionary times." Companies have also been cutting back on their subsidies for education expenses. The proportion of firms offering undergraduate and graduate educational assistance has declined by 10 and 11 percentage points respectively since 2007.

[See 7 Signs of a Good 401(k) Plan.]

Life insurance for dependents. About half (55 percent) of companies provide life insurance for children and other dependents, down from 65 percent in 2007

Incentive bonus plans. Bonuses for executives are also on the chopping block. Incentive bonus plans for high-level employees are currently offered at half of the companies SHRM surveyed, down 10 percentage points since 2007.