Most employed Americans have seen only modest gains in their paychecks over the past few years but sluggish wage growth has been partially offset by rising benefits. That is not surprising since employers must do whatever is necessary to attract and retain talented workers if they want to remain competitive, and an updated study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) helps show just how important benefits offerings can be. For example, more than a third (36 percent) of surveyed working Americans (ages 21–64) said that they consider the benefits package offered by a prospective employer to be an “extremely important” factor in their decision to accept or reject a job offer. Another 41 percent said that benefits offerings are “very important,” and 22 percent reported that they had already “accepted, quit, or changed jobs” solely because of the benefits that an employer offered or failed to offer.
When asked to identify the particular benefits that they value the most, three-quarters of surveyed workers responded with health insurance. Such sentiment is likely a result of the rapid rise in medical care costs and coverage premiums that has occurred during the past few years. Sixty percent of respondents even said that they would stay with an employer they no longer like in order to continue receiving company-provided health insurance. A retirement savings plan was found to be another top-valued benefit, and paid time off has grown in importance markedly over the past decade. This EBRI survey on the value of workplace benefits has been conducted for roughly two decades, and there has been a clear trend lower in the number of employees citing defined benefit (DB) pension plans as an important offering. That steady decline is likely a reflection of the ongoing transition away from DB plans toward the simpler and more cost-effective defined contribution (DC) structure. Multiple-employer plans (MEPs) and professional employer organizations (PEOs) are accelerating the DB to DC shift because these tools can help provide the cost savings and expertise needed to properly administer a quality retirement plan, therefore enabling small employers to offer benefits that were once exclusive to large corporations.
Sources: Employee Benefit Research InstitutePost author: Charles Couch