Adjusting to Changing Benefit Expectations

Employees are increasingly looking to their employers for financial support and believe that employers also have a responsibility for their health and well-being.

What’s most interesting about that statement is that a higher percentage of employers agree with it than employees. In fact, the percent of employers agreeing with the health and well-being component of the statement exceeds employees who feel the same by 10% (61% to 51%), according to MetLife’s 15th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study. A slightly higher percentage of employers also agree that they have a responsibility for the financial well-being of their employees, coming in at 47% to 42%.

The report, originally released in April, notes how employees come to work every day with financial concerns, and in larger businesses especially, employees acknowledge that they sacrifice their health and are less productive. And employers tend to agree. The report shows that 66% of employers agree that employees are less productive at work when worried about personal finance problems, up seven points since 2015.

Meanwhile, as employees increasingly turn to their employers for help, employees are looking not only for benefits that help in retirement, but also for benefits that solve more immediate needs. In a previous post on this study, we discussed the changing dynamics of the workforce and how retention is a top priority for employers. To address this priority, the study emphasizes how employers are increasingly recognizing the value of benefits to their employees and to the business, and how benefits can inspire more loyalty.

The report emphasizes that it is important for employers to ensure they offer benefits that employees need, even if the company does not pay for them. To meet the varying needs, the report suggests that providing employees with the ability to customize their benefits is key. Nearly three-fourths (74%) of employees say that having benefits customized to meet their needs is important when considering taking a new job and 72 percent say that having the ability to customize their benefits would increase their loyalty to their current employer.

MetLife recommends that today’s benefits experience needs to be more complete, focusing on five core principles:

  • a broader definition of benefits;
  • more tailored benefits;
  • more accessible benefits expertise;
  • a clear explanation of benefits; and
  • a simplified enrollment and engagement experience.

MetLife’s 15th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study was conducted from October 2016 through November 2016, and consisted of two distinct studies fielded by ORC International. The employer survey comprised 2,504 interviews with benefits decision makers at companies with at least two employees. The employee survey comprised 2,652 interviews with full-time employees, ages 21 and over, at companies with at least two employees.

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