Employers Underestimate Value Younger Employees Place on Benefits

April 18, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Americans of all ages continue to view employee benefits as a vital component of their financial security, according to new research.

A survey from LIMRA found that aside from salary, benefits (such as medical, dental, retirement plans) topped the list of considerations for taking a job, with 62% of respondents ranking it as most important. Fifty-nine percent cited employer stability, while 52% chose paid leave (such as sick days, holidays, vacation).  

The LIMRA survey report said an employer misconception is that older employees value benefits more than younger employees. The survey found that when it comes to benefits, younger employees value benefits nearly as much as older employees. 

For example, according to the report, over 90% of employees ages 40 and up ranked health insurance as an important or very important benefit, and nearly the same percentage of employers thought older employees would rank it so. However, while nearly 90% of employees under age 40 also ranked health insurance as an important or very important benefit, just about 65% of employers figured that would be their response.  

LIMRA said the different values that employees place on benefits appear to be more a function of life experience than life stage, income, or education levels.

Employee Perception of Benefit Costs  

The LIMRA survey found four out of 10 employees lack any knowledge of how much their medical insurance costs. Of the 60% of employees who think they know the cost of their medical insurance, just 15% are able to provide a reasonable estimate. Older generations are more likely to identify the correct cost of coverage.  

According to the report, employees who pay more than 50% of their premium are more likely to identify their non-medical benefit costs correctly.  

In addition, the survey found more than 85% of employees with access to benefits would make no changes to paid sick time, holidays, or vacation time, at the expense of other employer-provided benefits, to accommodate increased benefit package costs. However, employees from very small companies (fewer than 10 employees) think differently. At least one quarter would prefer to eliminate their paid leave benefits in order to allocate money to other insurance coverages.  

Overall, employees are more willing to pay higher premiums to keep their current benefits that they use on a regular basis, such as medical, dental, and vision insurance.  

More about LIMRA is at http://www.limra.com.