Annually, the two groups conduct a survey to measure the priorities of employee benefit specialists for the upcoming year – both as benefit specialists and employees.
This year, 85% of benefit specialists identified controlling rising health care costs as their top priority for 2002 from an employer’s perspective. When asked to respond as employees, however, they cited retirement issues as their top priority – with three out of their top five priorities relating to retirement and investment issues.
Respondents said that while health costs were their top priority as employers, other issues weighed in heavily such as:
- evaluating/implementing/expanding the use of Internet/intranet applications (51%)
- expanding the use of employee self-service technology for communications and/or administration (48.4%)
- providing financial/retirement planning tools and information (38.8%)
- and providing increased investment education (36.7%).
At the same time, respondents identified the key objective in driving benefit program policy and design for 2002 as:
- cost management/reduction (62.7%)
- followed by employee attraction and retention (15%)
- increased use of technology (10.6%)
- compliance and fiduciary issues (7.6%)
- and administrative requirements/alternatives (2.7%).
Retirement issues dominated the respondents concerns. Evaluating current levels of retirement savings was at the top of the list at (63.3%), while evaluating current investment options came in second (61.2%).
The remaining priorities in order of importance were:
- identifying additional ways to save for retirement
understanding more about health risks and how to control them (47.8%)
- and making greater use of Internet tools to manage financial and security programs (46.1%).