For roughly nine out of every ten employers, the main objectives of their benefits offerings are attracting and retaining talent and improving workplace engagement, according to a report from Thomsons Online Benefits. Similarly, a new survey conducted by MetLife found that 83 percent of plan sponsors cited “retaining employees” as a top priority for their benefits offerings. That is not too surprising considering how much employees appear to value workplace-provided benefits. Just look at a poll conducted last fall by Willis Towers Watson, which found that 59 percent of Millennials and 66 percent of Baby Boomers would be willing to “trade a lower paycheck for a more secure retirement benefit,” up from 42 percent and 50 percent, respectively, in the 2009 survey.
Eighty-eight percent of U.S. workers who participated in a more recent Transamerica survey described their employer-sponsored retirement plan as being “very” or “somewhat” important, and 78 percent said that the savings programs offered by prospective employers play a significant role in their job search decision. Half of worker respondents even said that they would be willing to accept a job offer that barely meets their minimum salary requirement but still provides excellent retirement benefits. Shifting the focus back to the new MetLife study, 40 percent of surveyed workers said that they look to their employer for financial security, and 73 percent believe that employers have a responsibility for the health and well-being of their workers.
Employers appear to share such sentiment because 82 percent of plan sponsors in the same MetLife survey said that they also agree that businesses have a responsibility for the health and well-being of their employees. Moreover, the vast majority of surveyed plan sponsors said that they believe their benefits offerings can help employees make better financial decisions (64 percent), increase employee satisfaction (80 percent), boost worker productivity (80 percent), and support employee loyalty (78 percent). Despite recognizing the value of benefits to their employees and to the business, many smaller firms do not offer workers such benefits because the cost of doing so is believed to be too great.
Fortunately, the are several options that can enable more small businesses to provide their workers with attractive retirement benefits. Multiple employer plans (MEPs), for instance, allow two or more employers to participate in employee benefit plans that are maintained as a single plan. This pooling of plan assets can lead to a significant reduction in the barriers to entry (costs) associated with a high quality defined contribution (DC) plan, and lower administrative burdens and reduced fiduciary responsibilities are possible as well. More information on the advantages of MEPs can be found here, and additional help is available by working with a professional employer organization (PEO).
Sources: Thomsons Online Benefits, MetLife, Willis Towers WatsonPost author: Charles Couch