Employee Benefit Benchmarks
Key Findings from CTHRA’s 2017 Employee Benefits Survey

When it comes to recruiting and retaining talent, is your company’s benefits package helping or hindering your efforts? Thanks to the findings recently released by CTHRA’s 2017 Cable and Telecommunications Employee Benefits Survey, employers now have meaningful benchmarks that can be used to assess their offerings.

“In general, benchmarks are very useful as they identify whether a company is providing benefits that are on par with other employers across the U.S. However, CTHRA’s Employee Benefits Survey provides even more meaningful data by identifying industry-specific benchmarks,” shared Pamela Williams, CAE, executive director for CTHRA.

Each of the 11 companies that participated in CTHRA’s Employee Benefits Survey received an individualized report which identified how the company performed compared to the aggregate results in areas including medical, dental, pharmacy, retirement and paid time off benefits, as well as wellness programs. The survey data was collected, compiled and analyzed by PwC Saratoga in comparison to employers overall based on data from PwC’s 2017 Health and Well-being Touchstone Survey. We’re pleased to share some of the findings.

While every company in the CTHRA survey offers at least one medical insurance plan, the median number of plans offered by industry employers is four. Among the plans offered, Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) are the most popular among industry employees, as the PPO is the highest-enrolled plan type for 64% of them.  However, as companies face yet another year of increases that exceed Consumer Price Index (CPI) 3+ fold, employers are identifying ways to limit the cost of health benefits by requiring greater employee contributions. While the level of subsidy has been relatively consistent, overall costs have increased for both employers and employees. As a result, 66% of employers in the U.S. now offer High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA). Our industry has not been quite as receptive, with only 55% of industry employers offering an HDHP with HSA. The popularity of HDHP with HSA is even less popular among industry employees, as it is the highest-enrolled plan only 9% of the time.

Diagram 1

Diagram 2

By far, PPOs are the most popular plan type among industry employees. As a result, their deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums are lower, while their coinsurance payments are higher when compared to all U.S. employers as shown in Diagram 3.

Diagram 3


CTHRA Survey

PwC Touchstone Survey

Average Single Deductible



Average Single Out-of-Pocket Maximum



Average Employee Coinsurance



Percentage Offering an HDHP with an HSA



Percentage Offering a PPO



On average, industry employers indicated that 97% of their active U.S. employees are eligible for medical benefits. Of those eligible, on average, 12% of employees opt-out of their employer’s medical plans.

One finding that sets our industry apart from others is medical benefit eligibility for part-time employees. Among CTHRA’s participants, 45% offer the same medical benefits and contributions for part-timers, compared to just 21% of U.S. employers.

Given the uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act’s future, many employers have adopted a wait-and-see attitude to health benefits. But while the AHCA (American Health Care Act) as written may remove many of the requirements of the employer mandate, employers are not rushing to make any changes.

Wellness programs and care management programs continue to gain in popularity, with 80% of U.S. employers and 100% of industry employers offering wellness programs. The most common wellness initiatives being offered by industry employers are noted in Diagram 4.

One trend in the area of wellness is that 45% of industry employers currently offer a financial well-being program and 45% are considering it. This initiative aims to support financial literacy and help employees plan for their financial future. The uptick in financial well-being programs reflects the fact that many employers have broadened their focus from strictly wellness to a more holistic well-being approach.

Diagram 4

Top Five Most Common Wellness Initiatives offered by industry employers


Percent of Employers Offering

Average Percent of Eligible Employees Participating

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)



Physical Activity Programs/Fitness Discounts



Biometric Screening



Health Coach (in-person or telephone)



Weight Management



While 27% of industry employers do not offer any incentives or disincentives to help increase participation in their wellness programs, 73% do. The most popular incentives are noted in Diagram 5.

Diagram 5

Type of Wellness Incentive Offered by Industry Employers

Percentage of Companies Offering

Cash or gift cards valued at less than $400


Annual Premium Incentives


Small Gifts


Employer Contributions into HSA/HRA/FSA


Raffles for Large Gifts


Charitable Donations


Additional Time-off


100% of industry employers provide a 401(k) defined contribution plan.  100% of full-time employees and 82% of part-time employees are eligible for the defined contribution plans.  One important finding is that industry employers are more likely to make contributions to the 401(k) plan even if the employee does not contribute. While 73% of industry employers do so, only 43% of U.S. employers do so.

Another interesting finding is that industry employers allow employees to vest more quickly in 401(k) plan contributions than U.S. employers. In 2017, 76% (up from 66% in 2014) of U.S. employers allow vesting in fewer than five years. In comparison, 91% of industry employers allow vesting in fewer than five years.

When comparing industry employers to U.S. employers, industry employees tend to net three more paid days off per year. In addition, industry employers are more likely to offer reduced hours and job sharing arrangements, but less likely to offer telecommuting.

Diagram 6


CTHRA Survey

PwC Touchstone Survey

Average Sick Days for New Hires



Average Vacation Days for New Hires



Average Annual Paid Holidays



Reduced Hours



Job Sharing Arrangements






We continually evaluate ways to deliver value to our members, so we ask that you please contact Pam Williams with recommendations for valuable benchmarks that CTHRA could provide. Later this year, we will release highlights of CTHRA’s 2017 Compensation Surveys.

CTHRA’s 2017 Cable and Telecommunications Employee Benefits Survey Participants Include*
A+E Networks
AMC Networks
Charter Communications
Crown Media Holdings
Discovery Communications
Mediacom Communications
Scripps Networks Interactive

* Companies that indicated they are not willing to release their names are excluded from this list




HR Pulse is a bi-monthly resource published exclusively for the members of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association.

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