TWO THIRDS OF EMPLOYERS NOT VERY SATISFIED WITH EMPLOYEE PARTICIPATION IN VOLUNTARY BENEFITS
New York, June 16, 2014
Despite employee benefit satisfaction reaching a record-high, 50%, in 2013, only 36% of employers are very satisfied with employee participation in voluntary benefits, according to findings released today from MetLife's 12th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS). The disconnect between employees' positive views on benefits and their enrollment actions highlights the need for more tailored benefits education that boosts employee knowledge and confidence in the enrollment process. A full report examining these findings is available on BenefitTrends.MetLife.com.
"Healthy enrollment rates are a good indicator that an employer's benefits program is working effectively and the Study found that 62% of employers say enrollment rates are the most important criteria for evaluating the success of their program," said Michael Fradkin, senior vice president, Markets and Growth Strategies, at MetLife. "According to the Study, 59% of employees are very interested in a greater variety of benefits to choose from. However, with more choice, there may also be confusion. 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."
The MetLife Study finds that employees may be having trouble navigating the different benefit options available to them, with 38% of employees reporting they are not very confident they made the right decisions during their last annual enrollment and over half, 53%, agreeing 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% of employees roll over their previous benefits selections without review, or fail to participate at all," notes Fradkin. "Only 20% of employees take the time to review their enrollment choices several times before finalizing their selection. Our research shows that engaged employees not only lead to higher participation, but can also pay dividends when it comes to 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."
Employers looking to increase employee participation and engagement can follow five enrollment priorities, based on employee findings from the EBTS, to optimize their enrollment tools, tactics and strategies:
- Focus on tools and tactics that matter most to employees – As employers map out an enrollment plan, the tools employees value most should figure prominently. For example, the MetLife study finds that for companies with more than 500 employees, 79% of employees find a confirmation of benefits enrollment elections sent to each employee to be helpful, but only 48% of employers use these.
- Deliver benefits education when and where employees want it – For many employees, the best environment for considering their benefit options is at home with family members; employers should ensure home access to information is available.
- Boost communications by doing the basics better – Better communications can lead to improved engagement—according to the Study, employees who report their company's benefits communications are easy to understand are nearly five times more likely to find enrollment simple and straightforward compared to those who disagree. Communications should feature simple language, visuals, messages personalized to employees' circumstances, and be continuous throughout the year.
- Technology talks louder than paper – The Study finds that employees prefer to enroll online—with 41% preferring to enroll via a computer compared to 13% who prefer a paper ballot. The Study also found that 70% of Gen Y find live online chat a helpful option and 69% named mobile apps, showing the need for employers to both understand their employee base and recognize the growing shifts as millennials become a higher percentage of the workforce.
- Get goal-oriented – Setting measureable goals can lead to greater satisfaction with participation. Employers who say they have established measureable goals for their communication and enrollment activities are more than twice as satisfied with participation in voluntary benefits than those without goals.
To learn more about how employers can boost enrollment and provide employees with better benefits education, access MetLife's 12th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study by visiting BenefitTrends.MetLife.com.
MetLife's 12th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study was conducted during October and November of 2013 and consisted of three distinct studies fielded by GfK Custom Research North America. The employer survey comprised 1,510 interviews with benefits decision-makers at companies with staff sizes of at least two employees. The employees survey comprised 1,203 interviews with full-time employees age 21 and over, at companies with a minimum of two employees. The broker survey comprised 524 interviews with brokers and consultants who sell group employee benefits to companies of all sizes.
GfK is one of the world's largest research companies with more than 13,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2012, GfK's sales amounted to €1.51 billion. To find out more, visit www.gfk.com.
MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates ("MetLife"), is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs. MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.com.