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Health Benefits Still Top Draw For Many Employees

Employers offering generous benefits packages that provide flexibility of cost and choice continue to have an advantage over those that don’t, according to a new study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

When it comes to employee preferences, EBRI finds health benefits continue to stand as the most desired perk. The vast majority (87%) say employer-based health insurance is extremely important or very important. Seventy-seven percent say the same about retirement savings plans, and 72% agree this is true for dental and vision benefits.

“Employers that offer a strong employee benefits package—especially health coverage—that balances costs and choice should find themselves with a competitive advantage over other companies when it comes to attracting and retaining desirable workers,” says Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program and co-author of the new report. “They also will have more satisfied employees overall.”

However, the EBRI study suggests there is significant room for improvement in benefit offerings, as one-third of workers say they are only somewhat satisfied with their employer benefits. Another 20% report being not satisfied.

Many respondents say they want their employers to continue offering benefits packages. A flexible and reasonable health insurance plan seems especially appealing now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” is facing an uncertain future. About two in five (42%) say they want their employers to continue paying for benefits as they have in the past. Only 20% feel they prefer turning toward a system where the employer provides employees with the money they would have spent on benefits, allowing the workers to decide what benefits products to buy and how to spend that money.

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