Despite Rising Costs, Workers Still Happy With Benefits

December 2, 2004 ( - Despite rising costs in health care and benefits, employees are still surprisingly satisfied with their employer-sponsored health benefits, according to a Watson Wyatt Worldwide survey.

Most are also satisfied with their company’s retirement savings offering. Regarding 401(k) plans, 76% of workers are satisfied with theirs, up 10% from two years ago and 12% from 1999. Sixty-three percent are content with their pension plan, up 2% from 2002 and 5% from 1999.

When asked about their health coverage, 61% of workers are satisfied with their health plan, according to the “2004 WorkUSA” poll of 13,000 employees, the same percentage seen in 1994 and 1999. Only 17% are not satisfied, while 23% have mixed feelings about the plans. The total percentage satisfied with their plans, however, has fallen 3% since 2002.

According to the survey, employees’ understanding of the value of their total rewards package – which Watson Wyatt states includes benefits, pay, incentives, profit-sharing and stock-based programs – has increased almost 19% since 2002. Sixty-seven percent of employees feel that they are well informed about their package, up from 58% two years ago. In 1999, the number sat at 60%.

More and more employees believe that their benefits and total reward packages are better than those offered at other companies, the survey also finds. Forty-four percent of employees said that their benefits compared favorably to others, up from 32% in 1999. The percent who believed their total rewards packages compared favorably to others was up 6% from the 1999 figure of 30%.

With paid time off programs, 73% of employees are satisfied, up 2% from 2002 and up 4% from 1999.

Watson Wyatt Worldwide is a consulting firm with offices in over 30 countries.