Survey: Employers protect health benefits | NevadaAppeal.com
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Survey: Employers protect health benefits

John Seelmeyer
Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Northern Nevada employers appear to be focused on protection of health insurance for their workers, even at the cost of other benefits.

Some 93 percent of the companies that responded to a survey sponsored by the Nevada Association of Employers this autumn say they provide a health plan as part of their benefits package.

That’s essentially unchanged from the 94 percent who reported they provide health plans two years ago, the last time that the association completed a survey of benefits and personnel policies.

The survey found, too, that 47 percent of the surveyed companies establish a 30-hour week as the minimum level at which an employee qualifies for health benefits.

That’s essentially unchanged from the 46 percent that set a 30-hour benchmark in the survey two years ago.

“The health benefit is the last thing companies are going to take away from their workers,” said James V. Nelson, executive director of the Nevada Association of Employers. “I think this shows that companies really care.”

In fact, the survey found that a growing number of companies have widened their health plans to include domestic partners.

About 41 percent of the companies in this year’s survey offer health coverage to domestic partners, more than a three-fold increase from the 12 percent who did so just two years ago.

Employers in Nevada aren’t obligated under state law to offer benefits to domestic partners.

While they are protecting their health benefits, companies said that they have cut back on some other benefits as a result of the recession.

For instance, 17 percent of the companies that responded to this year’s survey said they offer 11 or more paid holidays annually. Two years ago, 25 percent offered 11 or more holidays.

“Companies are pulling back on paid time off,” Nelson said.

A surprise in the survey: The much-worried-about problems of employee retention aren’t yet becoming a reality in northern Nevada.

About 78 percent of the companies in this year’s survey said that their turnover is running less than 5 percent a year.

Two years ago, when recession-related fears were at their highest, 52 percent of the surveyed companies said that turnover was less than 5 percent.

The message, Nelson says, is clear: “People are holding onto their jobs.”

But he acknowledges the super-low turnover rate among the surveyed companies came as a surprise. Numerous national surveys have found that many workers are in a flight pattern, ready to bolt to a new job at first opportunity.

The Nevada Association of Employers survey this year drew responses from 90 companies, all of them in northern Nevada. They ranged from some of the largest employers in the region to some small businesses, Nelson said. He said participating companies use the results to ensure their benefits packages are competitive as they work to recruit and retain talented employees.