Employees Not Seeking Advice for Benefits Decisions

September 8, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The MetLife Study of Open Enrollment Benefit Trends shows that 34% of married employees do not consult with their spouse or partner and 59% of single employees do not consult with anyone before making their benefits decisions.

Furthermore, according to a MetLife press release, 38% of singles say they wait until the night before open enrollment ends to make their benefit choices. Of these, 46% say they are just procrastinators, 30% say they are too busy, and 12% say they’re overwhelmed by too many choices.

“At a time when companies are shifting more responsibility to employees for choosing and financing more of their own benefits – retirement plans, healthcare, insurance products – too few workers are getting the information and advice they need to make informed, life-stage decisions,” notes Maria Morris, senior vice president of MetLife’s Institutional Business, in the press release.

Forty eight percent of survey respondents said their number one criteria for selecting benefits is the changing needs of their family or themselves. Forty percent say they keep the same benefit elections from year to year. Just 5% say cost is their primary selection criteria.

The survey shows employees are not putting great consideration into their benefit selections. In fact, when ranking activities in order of time spent, planning a vacation (28%), doing taxes (24%), and shopping for a new car (16%) ranked above making benefits decisions (13%).

Of concern in the MetLife survey, Morris notes in the release, is “More than one quarter (29%) of the singles and 32% of households with children surveyed by MetLife, for example, say they have no intention of enrolling in a disability plan, despite the importance of disability income protection for employees in these life-stages.” Morris points out that not considering which benefits are important in an employee’s stage of life or choosing the wrong coverage level for benefits can jeopardize an employee’s financial future.

NOP World polled 346 full-time employees by phone in July 2005 for the MetLife survey. Respondents were 210 males and 136 females, 17% of whom are single.