More than ever, employees are placing a high value on benefits this year, with a majority of workers feeling pressure to make the right choices when open enrollment begins in the next several weeks.
Due to the pandemic, the importance of benefits – voluntary as well as employer provided – has risen significantly in the minds of workers according to a survey sponsored by Prudential Finance. Three-quarters said the current environment has caused them to realize how important benefits are. And 75% agreed that, “Due to the pandemic, I feel that access to benefits through an employer is now more important than ever before.”
So important have benefits become to employees that 77% now see them as a key part of their compensation, a big increase over the 67% who said that last year. By an even larger margin, 73% of workers said their benefits are a major reason for staying at their job. Last year, 59% of workers said that.
A majority – 52% — said they’d be willing to risk a job change if it offered better benefits.
Speaking to Human Resource Executive, Leston Welsh, head of business segments at Prudential Group Insurance, said, “The pandemic has driven home the idea that no one is immune to unexpected life events that can disrupt their income. The dangers of an ‘it won’t happen to me’ mentality are now very clear, and employees are placing greater value on benefits because they are more aware of how these benefits can help them during a life event, including paying for high out-of-pocket medical costs and hospital visits.”
The survey, in fact, showed that for 42% of the respondents benefits help to reduce their financial stress. These employees are most likely to have one or more of such benefits as accidental death & dismemberment (45%), a Health Savings Account (42%) and hospital indemnity insurance (32%).
Not surprisingly, medical benefits and paid sick leave are the most valued two benefits. These are typically part of a basic total compensation plan. But access to a retirement savings plan (38%) and flexible work arrangements (25%) ranked just behind.
Because of the importance benefits now have for so many workers, this year’s open enrollment season will be more stressful than usual. The survey found 51% of workers are feeling a lot more pressure to make the right choices.
As a consequence Welsh said, “Employees will need better information and more time to analyze how a different set of benefits may be better suited for their new normal.
“Given the uncertainty of the current environment, it’s more important than ever for employers to educate and encourage their employees to choose the solutions that will help safeguard their financial security — over the near and long term.”