Benefits Increasingly Important to Employees

October 19, 2011 ( - Benefits play an increasingly pivotal role in the employer-employee relationship, according to the 2011 Mercer Workplace Survey.

Nearly eight out of 10 employees say their benefits are one of the reasons they work where they do, and almost as many (76%) say that benefits make them feel appreciated by their company, an increase from 74% and 72%, respectively, a year ago.  

According to the findings, employer-sponsored health care continues to be a critical component of the overall benefits offering. Even as health care costs continue to rise, employees appear ready to accept changes to the employer-employee cost sharing model. This year, almost half (44%) of the employees surveyed reported that they were asked to pay more out of their own pocket for health benefits in the last 12 months. Yet, 46% still identified their health benefits are “definitely worth” the cost (up from 38% in 2010).   

In addition, there is a higher level of participation in programs that encourage personal accountability, a Mercer news release said. Nearly a third of employees say they take advantage of their employer’s wellness program “a great deal,” up from only 23% last year, and 26% say they take advantage of their employer’s disease management program “a great deal,” up from 15% last year.  

Perhaps contributing to the growing importance of employer-sponsored benefits is the still uncertain impact of health care reform, Mercer said. While health care reform continues to receive mixed reviews among this insured population, the overall impression is slightly more positive than it was a year ago. Twenty-eight percent of respondents indicated they think their access to care will be worse off after health care reform (compared to 35% in 2010), and 40% expect what they pay for care to be worse (compared to 49% in 2010).  

The survey also reveals that employees are much more aware of health care reform than they were a year ago. More than a third (36%) of surveyed employees – double the 2010 level (18%) – report that their employer has indicated changes in their health plan will occur as a result of health care reform. Yet, as employees ponder exactly how those changes will affect them, 75% said they would rather pay more out of pocket than have their health benefits reduced.   

To download the 2011 Mercer Workplace Survey Executive Summary, visit