Employees value their workplace benefits even more than they have in the past, despite employers’ tendency to shift more of the cost burden to their workers’ shoulders, according to Guardian’s 2014 Workplace Benefits Study.
In the survey, released Tuesday, Guardian scored the value workers place on their benefits package on a scale of one to 10. The average score increased to 7.1 in 2014, up from 6.8 two years ago.
However, almost half of employers said they’re planning on asking employees to pay more for benefits in anticipation of the Affordable Care Act. Although over half of employers said they’ve successfully prepared for a post-ACA benefits era, less than a quarter are prepared to discuss changes with their employees.
Among the changes employers said they were making, about half will shift more of the cost to employees. About 40% are adding employee-paid voluntary benefits to their package and 31% are replacing current offerings with voluntary benefits.
Although only 1% of employers said they plan to drop their health insurance offering completely, most respondents said they were entertaining ideas of moving to high-deductible plans and introducing wellness and prevention programs.
“The reality within the industry today is that employees are being asked to shoulder increasing responsibility for their benefits, so it’s extremely important they have a solid understanding of their options and personal relevance of the benefits offered,” Phyllis Falotico, assistant vice president of group marketing at Guardian, said in a statement. “While the responsibility of benefits costs may be shifting, it’s still essential for companies to ensure that their employees have expert financial planning advice and a clear understanding of which workplace benefits are best for their particular situation.”
Another way employers are mitigating the cost of benefits is by outsourcing their administrative needs. Sixty percent of companies said they use a third party to administer their voluntary and medical benefits plans. More than half use a third party for their nonmedical benefits.
Respondents were more likely to agree that their benefits packages met their needs and were affordable than in 2012. They also agreed that the programs had a positive effect on both their personal health and wellness and their financial security.
Guardian found that for middle-class workers especially, workplace benefits are a “critical source of financial security.” Three-quarters of respondents said at least half of their financial security comes from the benefits they receive through their employer. In fact, Guardian found that 80% of workers get all of their health and disability coverage through their employer.
More than 80% of respondents said insurance and retirement benefits were an important factor both in staying with an employer and in choosing a new one.