Economic Realities Have Workers Citing Dental, Vision and 401(k)s as “Dream Benefits” More Often than Paid Vacations and Gym Memberships

There is more than one national election taking place this fall. In addition to selecting the President, many workers will have the opportunity to “elect” employee benefits for 2013. These decisions are important; however, only 56% of those eligible to participate in the annual benefits enrollment period feel very confident that they will make the right ones for themselves and their families. MetLife’s Benefits Election Poll, released today, found many workers keep the same choices each year or fail to actively enroll, potentially leaving “money on the table.”

A Time for Action
“We encourage employees to cast a ‘Vote for You.’ In other words, take full advantage of the benefits employers are offering and the discounts available through group pricing,” said Todd Katz, executive vice president, MetLife. “This is a once-a-year opportunity for employees to maximize their total compensation package by selecting benefits options that meet their specific needs.”

The Poll found that approximately one in five workers who had the opportunity to participate in a benefits enrollment last year failed to act and defaulted to either the prior year’s choices or their employer’s default choices. Men (24%) were twice as likely as women (12%) to fail to act. The Poll also found:

  • Workers Keep to the Status Quo. More than half, 51%, of respondents reported they deliberately kept their choices the same, believing their personal needs were unchanged. Research shows the more actively employees review benefits materials, the more likely they are to make changes. In fact, 43% of those who actively reviewed materials deliberately kept the same options compared to 58% who only briefly reviewed them. Employers often change or add offerings, so it is beneficial to read enrollment materials to confirm whether the current selections remain the most appropriate.
  • Savings is an Eye Opener. Many workers don’t realize the savings potential from workplace benefits, even if paid for by the employee. In fact, 68% of workers reported they would spend more time reviewing enrollment materials if they could save money by buying group insurance products.
  • Knowledge Boosts Confidence. Reading benefits materials appears to boost confidence in decision-making. In fact, nearly two-thirds of people who actively reviewed information last enrollment season feel very confident about making the right decisions this year. However, only half of those who did not make that effort feel that confident.

“It pays to be a savvy shopper at the office as well as at home,” said Katz. “Not only are there obvious out-of-pocket cost savings by using plans with in-network dental, medical and vision providers, but some employers offer opportunities to save on auto insurance, homeowners insurance and even attorney fees. For example, we’ve found that people who elect auto insurance through work can save, on average, 28%.”

Employees’ Dream Benefits
After free or affordable medical coverage, employees most frequently name dental, vision and 401(k) retirement benefits as their “dream” benefits. These benefits were cited ahead of more vacation time and gym memberships. Other dream benefits included life insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance, and disability insurance as well as flex time, telecommuting, and college tuition assistance.

Nearly two-thirds of workers want a wider array of voluntary benefits to choose from even if they pay for the benefits themselves. This finding underscores that while employees dream of having benefits entirely funded by their employer, they recognize the value of having access to more benefits options regardless of who pays for them.

Consumers can take portions of the MetLife Benefits Election Poll for themselves at our Facebook page, and join the Twitter discussion at #voteforyou.

The MetLife Benefits Election Poll was conducted online September 28-30, 2012 and was fielded by GfK Roper Customer Research North America. This nationally-representative survey polled 523 full- and part-time workers who are age 18 and older.

GFK Custom Research North America
GfK Custom Research North America is part of the GfK Group, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious market research organizations, operating in more than 100 countries. Headquartered in New York City, with 10 offices in the U.S., GfK Custom Research North America provides full-service market research and consulting services in the areas of Customer Loyalty, Product Development, Brand & Communications, Channels, Thought Leadership, Innovation, and Public Affairs.

About MetLife

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit


Karen Eldred
Judi Mahaney