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Guardian Life survey flags room for improvement in employee benefits

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Most U.S. workers believe their companies’ employees benefits can be substantially improved, according to a new report.

Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, published this finding in a national survey of 1,071 employee benefits decision-makers, including benefits executives, business owners, human resources professionals and financial management professionals. The Guardian Workplace Benefits Study polled benefits professionals at U.S. business with at least five full-time employees.

When asked to attach a value to their employee benefits on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest value and 1 the lowest, more than 6 in 10 workers (64%) rate their benefits in the moderate (6-10) range, the average score being 6.8 in Guardian’s Benefits Value Index.

Just 20% of the respondents give their benefits packages a high (9-10) BVI rating. Sixteen percent of those polled rated their benefits in the low (1-5) range.

To arrive at a BVI rating, Guardian asked employees about the degree to which they agree their company offers benefits that meet personal needs, are affordable, positively impact their personal health, wellness and financial securities and help them make the right choices for their current personal and/or family situation.

On average, the survey states, about half of workers (49%) say they are highly satisfied with their benefits package while four in ten employers (42%) believe their workers are highly satisfied. Additionally, more than 1 in 10 employees (12%), report that satisfaction with their benefits package has worsened in the past year, compared to just 5% of employers who say so.

“There appears to be general agreement between employees and employers—though workers are more emphatic—that benefits programs are not well understand, appreciated or simply [are] not meeting the needs of many workers,” the report concludes.

The report adds that workers’ perceptions about the value of their employee benefits are influenced by socioeconomic status. College-educated individuals have a 7.0 BVI score as compared to 6.5 for those who only have a high school degree or less.

Similarly, workers with greater household incomes ($200,000-plus, $150,000-$199,000, $100,000-$149,000 and $75,000-$99,000) provide higher BVI scores (7.1, 7.2, 6.9 and 7.2, respectively) than those with lower household income incomes: 6.7 and 6.4, respectively, for those earning $50,000-$74,999 and $25,000-$49,000.

The study adds that workers who are in the “family formation years” and have experienced one or more “life events” during the past two years (e.g., have children, getting married, buying a house, etc.) tend to place a lower value on their employee benefits than do other workers.

“This study indicates that as workers advance through their various life stages and achieve greater stability in their lives, employee benefits may become increasingly more valuable,” the report states.