Do Employers (Think They) Have a Responsibility to Offer Benefits?

Workers may be more satisfied with their jobs and benefits than many employers realize — and that’s a good thing, since nearly two-thirds believe employers have a responsibility to offer insurance and retirement benefits.

Three-quarters are “happy” with their jobs and a majority are satisfied with their benefits package, including one in three who are “extremely satisfied,” according to the third annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study. That stands in contrast to the fewer than 2 in 10 employers who believe their employees are extremely satisfied with their benefits.

Those who agree that their employers have a responsibility to offer benefits tend to work for larger companies with 1,000 or more employees (52% vs. 42%) and earn incomes of $50,000 or more (75% vs. 67%). Women (79%) are also more likely than men (73%) to believe offering benefits is an employer’s responsibility. As you might expect, far fewer employers (16%) strongly believe they have a responsibility to ensure employees’ financial preparedness, though companies with at least 100 employees (46%) are more inclined to agree than smaller firms (29%). Companies that have growing HR departments are also much more inclined to feel this sense of responsibility for their employees.

Benefits Philosophy

For about one in three U.S. employers, their company’s benefits philosophy predominantly centers around aligning costs to budget, while nearly one in four place greatest emphasis on improving employee satisfaction. The remaining 4 in 10 strive to balance cost control and employee satisfaction, rating their approach somewhere in between the two ends of the benefits philosophy spectrum.

Just one-third of employers (33%) report providing their employees with a total compensation statement, though companies with 100 or more employees are more likely to do this (44%). These employers report greater success increasing employee satisfaction, helping employees make better decisions, and improving the financial security of employees and their families. Moreover, the impact total compensation statements can have on workers’ perceived value of benefits can be substantial, according to the report.

Nearly three in four employees who receive a total compensation statement say that seeing information about the monetary worth of their benefits caused them to place greater value on them. Additionally, employees who receive total compensation statements are more likely to rate their company’s communications “effective” and they feel more confident in their own benefits decisions. Those receiving a total compensation statement are also more likely to feel their benefits positively impact their financial security. They have greater overall job satisfaction, and are more likely to stay with their employer for at least a year.

Employer results are based on a national online survey of 1,001 employee benefits decision makers. Respondents include business executives, business owners, human resource professionals and financial management professionals. The survey covers all industries and is nationally representative of U.S. businesses with at least five full-time employees.

Employee results are based on a survey conducted among 1,706 employees age 22 or older, who work full time for a company with at least five employees. Both surveys were conducted in the Fall of 2014.

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