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Education Assistance Programs, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Rise in 2019

Employee well-being, pay equity and diversity and inclusion initiatives continue to emerge as prominent influences on total rewards programs and practices.


This was a main finding in WorldatWork’s “2019 Inventory of Total Rewards Programs & Practices Survey.” The annual survey continues to evolve as employee expectations and the workplace change. This year, questions related to salary specifics like market-based adjustments (not COLA), well-being, redirected PTO and development opportunities, among others, were added.

Ultimately, employers continue to expand their total rewards offerings to attract, engage and retain top-performing employees. Education assistance programs (26% in 2019 vs. 10% in 2018) and diversity and inclusion initiatives (65% in 2019 vs. 58% in 2018) increased year-over-year.


“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 CEO at WorldatWork. “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.”  

Categories captured in the survey include health/welfare, PTO, retirement, base pay, bonuses/commissions, short- and long-term incentives, performance management, recognition, development opportunities, caring for dependents, cultural initiatives/community involvement, financial wellness and workplace flexibility.

Other key findings from the survey included:

  • Welfare plans continue to be a prominent offering for participants, with 99% offering life, accidental death and dismemberment insurance and long-term disability programs.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (88%), high-deductible (82%) and health savings account (80%) medical plans continue to be popular.
  • More organizations are offering paid parental leave (57% in 2019 vs 52% in 2018).
  • More organizations are offering major family event celebrations than a year ago (38% in 2019 vs. 27% in 2018).
  • 89% of organizations surveyed use formal annual performance reviews and 77% use formal ratings.
  • Workplace flexibility continues to rise, as 86% of organizations surveyed offer occasional telework.

About the Author

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.

About WorldatWork

WorldatWork is a professional nonprofit association that sets the agenda and standard of excellence in the field of Total Rewards. Our membership, signature certifications, data, content, and conferences are designed to advance our members’ leadership, and to help them influence great outcomes for their own organizations.

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