Employee Financial Unpreparedness a Global Problem

November 15, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The inaugural MetLife Study of International Employee Benefits Trends has found that despite their concerns, employees globally are not properly planning for their financial futures.

According to a press release on the survey that included employers and employees in India, Mexico, Australia, and the U.K. that represent both mature and emerging economies and differing workplace environments, having enough money to live on and paying bills after a sudden income loss rank among workers’ top financial concerns. For employees surveyed in the U.S., India, and Mexico health insurance was also among the top three financial concerns.

The study found 62% of employees surveyed in Mexico, 58% in Australia, 40% in the U.S., 22% in the U.K., and 7% percent in India have not taken steps to determine their household’s life insurance needs. Further, the news release said, the majority of employees in these countries have also not taken steps to assess household income needs in the case of a disability (80% in Mexico, 65% in Australia, 55% in India, and 56% each in the U.K. and U.S.).

Employees in these countries also seem to be putting retirement and aging related issues on the back burner. Fewer than half of employees in three countries say they have taken retirement planning steps (43% in Australia, 35% in India, and 21% in Mexico).

In the U.K., although 71% of employees report assessing their financial retirement needs and 34% rank “outliving retirement money” as a top retirement concern, only 17% said they have taken any steps to determine their long-term care insurance needs. In the U.S., 52% of employees said they are concerned with “outliving retirement money,” but only 31% said they have taken steps to determine long-term care insurance needs.

"The study underscores the critical role that employee benefits play in filling gaps that exist despite national health and retirement systems in many countries," said William J. Toppeta, president of MetLife's International Business, in the news release. The study showed, in the U.S., 72% of employees who are satisfied with their benefits also feel a strong sense of loyalty to their employer and 80% reported job satisfaction. Similarly, in Mexico, employees who work for companies that offer benefits change jobs less frequently - 52% of employees surveyed at companies offering benefits have worked for the same employer for the past five years, versus only 39% of employees at companies that provide no benefits.

The survey also indicated workforce shortages and competition for top talent in mature economies are prompting employers to reconsider their benefits strategies and find new ways to attract and retain highly skilled workers. A majority of U.K. and U.S. employers said retaining (83% and 88% respectively) and attracting (78% and 75% respectively) skilled workers are among their chief benefits objectives. In Australia, 89% of employers cited retaining employees as a top benefits objective.

In emerging economies, employers cited controlling health and welfare benefits costs as top benefit objectives (85% in Mexico, 96% in India), along with increasing worker productivity (99% in Mexico, 96% in India).

For workers, work/life balance was a prime benefit concern. More than seven in 10 employees in India (73%) and Mexico (71%), and four in 10 employees in the U.S. (45%) and U.K. (41%) and more than half (55%) of Australian employees cited having "more time to spend with their families" as a chief concern. Nearly all employees in Australia (87%) said "flexible working hours" is one of the "most important benefits."

For copies of the international study and the 5th annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends in the U.S., visit www.whymetlife.com/internationalpr .