Executives at middle market U.S. firms plan to focus in the months ahead on increasing employees’ share of health and welfare costs as a way to offset rising compensation costs.

About 65% of executives polled in a recent industry survey identified the cost of benefits most often as having the biggest impact on compensation decisions over the past year. Decision makers (37%) said they plan to increase employees’ share of health and welfare costs, according to the “Verisight and McGladrey 2011/2012 Compensation, Retirement and Benefits Trends Survey.”

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