Employee Retention and Cost Savings Key HR Objectives

May 31, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Employers say saving money and hanging onto their workers are two of the most important benefits considerations for their companies, a study found.

MetLife polled eight different segments of companies based on their sizes and in all eight polls about their benefits priorities; employers ranked controlling costs and retaining employees in the top two highest categories. These are among the core findings from MetLife’s annual Employee Benefits Benchmarking Report and companion Web-based Benefits Benchmarking Tool, which provide benefits professionals, brokers and consultants with a way to compare the features of one company’s benefits program against those of its peers.

Fifty-seven percent of small companies in the MetLife survey with two to 49 employees think retaining employees is the primary benefits objective, but only 29% of small company employees are satisfied with the benefits their employers offer, according to the report. Also, only 16% of small company employees said their company’s benefits communication programs help them understand their benefits plans.

Conversely in the polls, employers ranked helping employees with benefits decisions, addressing employees’ diverse needs and helping employees make financial decisions below 20%   in regard to their importance as employee benefits objectives. Only 23% of employers with 500 to 599 employees ranked helping employees with benefits decisions as the most important objective.

Thirty-nine percent of the employees of large companies with at least 25,000 employees “strongly agreed” that their companies effectively taught them about their benefits plan, and 39% said the programs are helpful, according to the report.

A Sector View

Forty-three percent of employees in the retail trade industry strongly agreed that their company’s benefits communication is effective, but only 17% of employees in the manufacturing trade said their their benefits communication is effective, according to the report.

Employees at large companies – 10,000 to 24,999 employees and 25,000 and above – said they are satisfied with the benefits they receive from their employers, according to the report.

In 2003, employees began shifting responsibility for funding benefit programs to their employees, who were not satisfied with this change in accountability. MetLife reported in its 2003 Employee Benefits Trend Study that 32% of employees were satisfied with their employer benefits (See  UpFront: Shift Shrift? ).

The 2006 MetLife Employee Benefits Trends Study included responses from 1,213 full-time employees, aged 21 and older, at companies with at least two employees, according to the report. MetLife also polled 1,514 benefits decisionmakers at companies with at least two employees. The full report can be found  here .