Study: Plan Sponsors Know Benefits are Important

October 11, 2006 ( - They may be under sometimes-severe cost-cutting pressure, but American companies in a new survey overwhelmingly viewed employee benefits as an important competitive advantage.

A Prudential Financial news release about its “Employee Benefits: 2006 & Beyond,” study said many plan sponsors are looking at new ways to better balance cost objectives and maintain competitive benefits programs.

According to Prudential, eight in 10 plan sponsors say it’s important to offer and subsidize a wide range of employee benefits while twice as many companies believe it is “highly important” (44%) compared to those who feel it’s “less important” (22%) to offer their employees competitive benefits programs.

As far as saving money is concerned, the Prudential study said most plan sponsors will shift costs to employees over the next five years. In fact, twice as many employers expect to increase employee cost-sharing efforts by 2010. Top cost-sharing strategies include:

  • implementing consumer-driven health plans and integrated health and disability management initiatives (75%)
  • asking employees to shoulder a greater proportion of contributory benefits costs (37%)
  • offering more voluntary benefits, where the employee pays 100% of the cost (31%).

Another change is that more and more people at the typical employer are getting involved in making benefits decisions. As a result, by 2010 plan sponsors say that finance (48%), risk management (24%) and procurement (15%) functions are playing a larger role in helping evaluate and negotiate for the most cost-effective solutions. As benefit choices become more complex and employees shoulder more of the expense, benefit providers will also seek external guidance from benefits brokers/consultants (27%) and insurance carriers (27%) to help build the right solutions.

Prudential’s survey was based on an online national random sample of 1,218 benefits decision makers including executives, business owners, human resource and financial management and 400 employees, administered in February, 2006.

For a copy of the report, visit