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Unum Study Flags High Correlation Between Employee Benefits Education and Job Satisfaction

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More than one-quarter of employed adults say that morale has declined in last year. And a majority of employees would bolt their current employer if offered comparable pay and benefits elsewhere, according to a new report.

Unum Group Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn. (NYSE: UNM), published these findings in a summary of results from the company’s fourth annual survey of American workers. Conducted online by Harris Interactive, the survey polled more than 1,100 employed adults following the 2011 benefits enrollment period.

Twenty-eight percent of employees surveyed by Unum say that morale at their companies has declined in last year. The report also finds that just 55% of workers would choose to stay with their employer if they were offered the same pay and benefits elsewhere, a 7-point drop since 2008.

Despite modest gains in employment and a more stable work environment, only 52% of the workers surveyed rate their employer as a very good or excellent place to work.

The report adds that one in three employees do not feel financially secure. And more than one in four say they feel less financially secure compared to last year at this time.

Almost half of those polled are not confident they have enough money to cover future expenses.

“In this climate, the need for effective benefits education is greater than ever,” says Barbara Nash, vice president of Corporate Research at Unum. “Our research shows that a good benefits education experience is a highly effective, low-cost way for employers to demonstrate their concern for employees and their well-being.”

Unum’s research finds that employers continue to spend too little time and fewer resources on helping employees understand their employee benefits:

  • 28% of employees who were asked to review their benefits in the past year say the benefits education provided by their employers is fair or poor.
  • Only half of those employees say they received printed information or brochures, down from 70% in 2008.
  • Just over a third of those employees were offered a chance to attend an information and question-and-answer session about benefits, down from 52% in 2008.
  • The percentage of employees who had access to a toll-free number to speak with a benefits advisor dropped sharply, to 29% in 2011 from 47% in 2008.

Unum’s research also shows a high correlation between effective benefits education and a workplace satisfaction.

More than 8 in 10 (82%) of employees who rated their benefits education highly also rated the employer an excellent or very good place to work. Conversely, only 27% of employees who rated their benefits education as fair or poor also say their employer was an excellent or very good place to work.

And some 79% of those who rate their benefits education highly say they would choose to stay with their current employer even if they were offered the same pay and benefits elsewhere.