Employees seem to be much more interested in annuitized retirement benefits than their employers are.

Only 21% of employers say they are looking for products that will help employees convert retirement savings into income, but 50% of the employees say they want retirement income products.

Researchers at a unit of MetLife Inc., New York, have published that finding in a major employee benefits trends update. The researchers have based the update on results from interviews with U.S. employees and employers.

In August 2008, interviewers talked to 1,349 full-time employees ages 21 and older, at employers with a minimum of 2 employees. The interviewers then looked to see how the financial crisis would affect the answers by conducting 627 additional employee interviews in November 2008.

Similarly, interviewers talked to 1,524 benefits decisionmakers at companies with at least 2 employees in August 2008, then polled 569 benefits decisionmakers in November 2008.

The retirement income results come from the August 2008 survey.

The researchers also asked about many other benefits topics, including employees’ views on priorities, employees’ thoughts on health and wellness, and employees’ level of interest in long term care.

MetLife researchers found, for example, that the percentage of employees who said a company’s culture is an important factor in determining loyalty fell to 50% in November 2008, from 62% in 2007.

The percentage of employees interested in advancement opportunities dropped to 57%, from 72%, but the percentage interested in benefits other than health and retirement benefits – such as life and disability benefits – increased to 69%, from 51%.

In 2007, 54% of employers said their most important benefits objective was to retain employees, and 48% said the most important objective was to cut costs.

In November 2008, only 50% of the employers said the most important objective was to retain workers, and 49% to control costs – but retaining workers was still the top objective.

The percentage of employers citing “increasing productivity” rose to 40%, from 34%, and the percentage citing “increase job satisfaction” fell only slightly – to 32%, from 33%.