Employer, Employee Benefit Focus at Odds

November 29, 2000 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Employers and employees have different benefit priorities - with employees overwhelmingly concerned about retirement issues and employers focused on health care costs, according to a new survey.

In fact, while 70% of benefit specialists surveyed identified rising health care costs as their top priority, employees were overwhelmingly focused on retirement issues, according to the Annual Employee Benefits Survey by the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and Deloitte & Touche.

It was the second year in a row that health care costs topped the list of employer concerns. Double digit increases and an unwillingness to pass those costs along in a tight labor market once again pushed health care costs to the top of the employer concern list.

Healthy Focus

In addition to rising health care costs, other employer concerns were:

  • 57.9% – evaluating/implementing/expanding the use of Internet/intranet applications
  • 45.4% – expanding the use of employee self-service technology for communications and/or administration
  • 42.8% – providing financial/retirement planning tools and information
  • 35.7% – providing increased investment education

Not surprisingly, the key objective driving benefit program policy and design in 2001 was once again employee attraction and retention (37.7%). Other key drivers identified:

  • 29.7% – cost issues
  • 22.8% – increased use of technology
  •   4.7% – compliance and fiduciary issues
  •   3.6% – administrative requirements/alternatives

Savings, Retirement Dominate

Among employee concerns, nearly three-fourths (71.1%) of the benefit specialists reported evaluating current investment options as their top priority for 2001. Also at the top of the list were:

  • 67.9% – evaluating the adequacy of current levels of retirement savings
  • 58.9% – identifying additional ways to save for retirement
  • 53.6% – learning more about health risks and how to control them
  • 46.4% – considering estate planning

The annual survey represents the priorities as expressed by 280 employee benefit specialists in their roles as both benefit specialists and employees.