Benefits Benchmarking Tool Provides Access to Comprehensive Data; Enables Customized Comparisons

In today's competitive talent environment, most employers recognize the importance of loyalty in retaining valued employees; yet, they continue to overstate their perceptions of loyalty to employees. In fact, the significant gap between employee and employer perceptions of their loyalty to each other increased year over year. Last year, 52% of employers strongly believed their companies displayed loyalty to employees, while only 40% of employees agreed. This year, MetLife's 8th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends shows that the gap has widened: 57% of employers strongly believe they demonstrate loyalty to employees, and only 39% of employees feel this is the case. The growing gap in loyalty perceptions could eventually lead to retention risk as the job market picks up: employees who feel undervalued may not be motivated to stay when a job opportunity presents itself elsewhere.

The MetLife study shows a strong correlation between employee benefits satisfaction, job satisfaction and employee loyalty. Comparing and contrasting employers' benefits programs against those of their peers can help craft a benefits strategy that considers employees' expectations in order to increase the value of benefits as a driver of job satisfaction and loyalty.

"Benefits decisions are about more than simply cost. A number of factors come into play that, when carefully architected, can transform a benefits program into a long-term strategy for helping to meet a company's core business objectives," says Anthony J. Nugent, executive vice president, Employee Benefits Sales, MetLife. "Brokers who understand benefits trends across various demographics can help clients to recognize the benefits expectations of a specific employee population, and measure their programs against those of competitors. These companies will then be better positioned to deliver competitive employee benefits that are highly valued - a key driver of benefits satisfaction, job satisfaction and employee loyalty."

It is important for brokers and advisors to use a targeted approach when creating and recommending an employee benefits program to their clients, and one of the best ways to bolster a proposal is to have thorough research to support it. It can be helpful to show a comparison of a client's benefits offerings and strategies to others in similar categories, such as industry, company size and region.

MetLife's Benefits Benchmarking Tool (available online at metlife.com/broker/benchmark) provides research-based data in an easy-to-use, online format. Created to aid employers and brokers by providing new perspectives on benefits practices, the tool can help to align benefits offerings, strategies and communications with employee expectations. Through customized data searches, employers and brokers can compare and contrast benefits offerings, perceptions and priorities along over 90 dimensions. Brokers and advisors can customize, download and save their analyses for client presentations and access their saved results online.

"Employers and brokers alike know that the war for talent is fought across many dimensions, including company size, industry, geography, benefits practices and company culture. A fully integrated view of the data from the Benefits Benchmarking Tool can help facilitate the development of a targeted approach to benefits that can maximize their value to employees, enhance the client relationship and increase an employer's competitive edge," added Nugent.

The 2010 MetLife Benefits Benchmarking Tool provides access to comprehensive data, enabling users to create customized comparisons that highlight findings like the ones shown in the examples below:

  • Sizing Up Benefits by Company Size. For companies with 5,000-9,999 employees looking to increase employee productivity, work/life balance and wellness programs could be the missing link. While only 25% of employers in this segment say that providing benefits to help employees with work/life balance is a very important benefits strategy, 52% of employees at these companies say these benefits would be very effective at improving their productivity at work.

A similar story emerges with respect to wellness programs. Only 33% of employers in this company size segment say that providing wellness programs is a very important benefit strategy, yet 45% of employees at these companies say that their productivity would be favorably impacted by these programs.

  • Industry Insights and Retirement Planning. Public Administration and Education are two industries leading the way in offering retirement seminars at work. Over two-thirds (69%) of Public Administration employers and 51% of Education employers offer retirement seminars to their employees, compared to 35% of employers overall.

    The Benefits Benchmarking Tool indicates that this tactic may be paying off in terms of employees' retirement preparedness and employee loyalty. Sixty-one percent of employees in Public Administration and 54% of employees in Education have a formal retirement plan (compared to 47% of employees overall), and employees in both industry segments say that their retirement benefits are very important influencers of employee loyalty (85% of Public Administration employees and 72% of Education employees).

  • West Leads in Benefits Satisfaction and Effective Communication. Benefits satisfaction in the West is higher than in any other region. About half (49%) of employees at companies in the West say they are very satisfied with the benefits they receive through their employer. This is compared with 42% in the Northeast and Midwest, and only 39% in the South.

    The Benefits Benchmarking Tool indicates that the West's leading position may be a result of effective benefits communications. In the West, 38% of employees say their employers' benefits communications effectively educate them about their benefits, compared with only 29% of employees in the South. A closer examination of benefits communication strategies by employers across all regions may prove to be helpful in boosting benefits satisfaction levels.

The Tool can help brokers and advisors gain knowledge of appropriate benchmarks, and develop thoughtful, data-based, strategic benefits program recommendations that can help their employer clients compete for the long term in the war for top talent.

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New York, NY 10166.
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