Worker Retention, Benefit Cost Containment Top HR Concerns

November 14, 2001 ( - Hanging on to their employees while keeping a rein on benefit expenses apparently is the most pressing issue on corporate executives' minds these days, a new survey finds.

According to the survey by MetLife, approximately three-quarters of employers view employee retention (78%) and controlling health/welfare benefits costs (73%) their most critical benefits objectives. That’s ahead of attracting employees (51%) and increasing employee productivity (29%). MetLife released the study Wednesday.

In support of these objectives:

  • 58% of employers rate work/life balance as one of their most important benefits strategies
  • 38% rate employee self service on the net as their most important strategy
  • 24% name cost shifting to employees as a corporate strategy.

More than 90% of employers surveyed currently provide at least one voluntary benefit to their employees — most commonly an optional term life insurance policy. Approximately 80% of these employers report positive or very positive employee receptivity to such offerings.

Most Popular Products

The voluntary offering likely to grow the fastest is long-term care insurance, with 12% of employers expecting to add it over the next 18 months.

Other rapidly growing insurance and other offerings include:

  • auto and homeowners insurance (8% plan to add over the next 18 months)
  • pre-paid legal services (8%)
  • retirement planning/financial planning (8%)
  • vision (6%)
  • concierge (6%)
  • pet insurance (3%).

Web-Enabled Benefits

Another important area of growth is the Web-based delivery of employee benefits.

The survey also found that the percentage of employers using Web sites for employee benefits will nearly double over the next 18 months.

More than 30% of the mid-size and large employers surveyed plan to add e-capabilities over the next 18 months, as do 22% of small businesses. Currently approximately 40% of mid-size and large employers and 18% of small employers offer e-capabilities.
Currently, the most popular Internet features are benefits communication and retirement planning/education. Over the next 18 months, employers expect web-based enrollment and eligibility verification to increase significantly.

The study, titled 2001 MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends, surveyed 481 benefits and compensation professionals at US companies with more than 50 employees in June 2001.