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Study highlights need for better benefits education
Despite employees’ benefit satisfaction levels reaching a record-high of 50 percent in 2013, only 36 percent of their employers said they were very satisfied with employee participation in their voluntary benefits programs, according to findings from
MetLife’s 12th annual
U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study.
The study shows that 59 percent of employees were very interested in a greater variety of benefits to choose from. However, “with more choice, there may also be confusion,” said Michael Fradkin, senior vice president at MetLife.
“If employers add to their benefits offering but aren’t seeing the employee participation levels they anticipated, this may indicate a need for better benefits education and communications, rather than a lack of interest on the part of employees,” said Fradkin.
The study also suggests that employees may be having trouble navigating the different benefit options available to them, with 38 percent of employees reporting they are not very confident they made the right decisions during their last annual enrollment, and 53 percent saying they need more help understanding how their benefits work or how benefits meet their needs.
“Employees’ lack of confidence can be seen in their engagement during the enrollment process. The study finds that 27 percent of employees roll over their previous benefits selections without review, or fail to participate at all,” noted Fradkin. “Only 20 percent of employees take the time to review their enrollment choices several times before finalizing their selection.”
The research also indicates that engaged employees lead to higher participation rates, which can pay dividends in building employee loyalty. “The study finds employees who agree strongly that their company’s communications help them select benefits that best meet their needs are more than twice as likely to say they are ‘very loyal’ to their employers,” said Fradkin.
Increasing Voluntary Benefits Enrollment
Employers looking to increase employee participation and engagement can follow five enrollment priorities suggested by the study:
The study findings were based on three separate surveys conducted during October and November of 2013 with benefits decision-makers at companies with at least two full-time employees, as well as with full-time employees age 21 and over, and with brokers and consultants who sell group employee benefits to companies of all sizes.
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter
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