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A recent survey of both employers and employees, the Guardian Workplace Benefits Study, sheds some light on how employees perceive their benefits – and also what employers believe about employee benefit perception. Less than two in 10 employers believe their employees are extremely satisfied with their benefits. How do employees really feel about their benefits, according to the study?

Benefits in general

Do employees believe employers are obligated to offer benefits? Almost two out of three employees say yes. The good news is the study also reveals that the majority of employees are satisfied with their benefits package – one in three are extremely satisfied.

Not surprisingly, the study found that income had a very significant impact on how employees perceive their benefits. Employees that make between $25,000 and $49,999 a year were not as satisfied with their benefits as those who make more money. According to the report, “They are less likely than those with higher incomes to feel their benefits meet their specific needs, are affordable or improve their health or financial security.”

Financial security

How much do employees think their benefits impact their financial security? Forty-two percent say they rely on their benefits for all or most of their financial preparedness. A majority of employees (65 percent) believe their benefits positively impact their financial security. This is understandable since the study found that many employees do not own other types of insurance such as disability and life insurance and many do not have retirement savings plans outside of work.

Employee engagement

Guardian discovered that perception of benefits is also influenced by how informed and educated employees are about their benefits, “Even when employers offer these benefits, many workers do not take advantage because of poor decision-making and/or ineffective communication and education efforts.”

Experts recommend communicating and reinforcing the concept that a benefit package is part of an overall financial security plan for employees, including health and welfare benefits. For example, if employees are relatively healthy and have not sought services, they may not appreciate the impact medical bills can have on their financial health – or the benefits of using a health savings account to save for out-of-pocket costs. Most employers in the study say they are interested in increasing access to benefits education and improving their enrollment processes and ongoing communications to help employees make the right benefit decisions.