Tailored Benefits Strategy Can Help Employee Retention

June 20, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Retaining employees outranked controlling costs as employers' top benefits objective on a recent survey.

A MetLife news release said that was one finding of its new Employee Benefits Benchmarking Report, which it said will help employers figure out what other firms in their market are doing to hang onto skilled workers and try to adjust their own benefits strategy.

“Employers really want a clear understanding of the competition’s practices and benefits product offerings so they can create an effective retention strategy,” said Randy Stram, vice president, MetLife Institutional Business, in the news release.

According to the news release, while white-collar and blue-collar workers both said that medical coverage was their most important benefit, white-collar employees ranked vacation as the second most important benefit and blue-collar workers named prescription drug coverage.

Vacation was ranked number five in importance by blue-collar workers. Blue-collar workers are also about twice as interested in long-term care insurance than white-collar employees, according to MetLife.

Size can make a difference in an employer’s benefits package. For example, while executive benefits amounted to only 4% of benefits spending for employers between 2-49 employees, that number jumped to 12% with companies with 10,000 to 24,999 employees.

There also can be a significant disparity between certain industries. Only 19% of retail employees report being satisfied with their benefits, while four in 10 manufacturing workers are satisfied and 49% of those employees in finance and real estate feel that way

According to MetLife, 44% of young families with children under the age of six reported being worried about benefits affordability over the next five years, but other demographic groups are less concerned. Yet, 49% of young families are very satisfied with benefits, but only 35% of singles voice similar satisfaction.

“Insights into employee mindsets and priorities could prove a significant competitive advantage as the workforce ages and talented employees become more difficult to attract and retain,” Stram said. “One size does not fit all when it comes to benefits plans, and it also pays to know what the competition is doing.”

The announcement said the report presents data broken down by industry, company size, geographic region, employee job type (executive, white-collar, blue-collar) and employee life stage.

Key study findings are at http://www.whymetlife.com/trends/keyfindings.asp. To access the Benchmarking Tool, go to http://whymetlife.com/benchmarkingtool/tool.asp .