Workers High on Benefits Likely to be Loyal

January 30, 2006 ( - More workers than ever are satisfied with their employer's benefits package, a new survey found.

A MetLife news release about its MetLife Employee Benefits Trend Study said that nearly four in 10 workers polled indicated they were somewhat or very satisfied with their benefits packages – up from 36% in 2004 and 32% the year before. Some age groups were even more enthused about their benefits: for example, 63% of preretirees (age 61 to 69).

Perhaps more significant than the numbers was the correlation between job satisfaction, employee loyalty and benefits satisfaction. According to the MetLife data, among employees who are very satisfied with their current benefits packages, nearly two-thirds (65%) are also satisfied with their current job while 67% feel a strong sense of loyalty to their employer.

According to the study, the largest companies (with over 25,000 employees) offer the widest array of employee benefits and over half (58%) strongly agree that the benefits they offer are an important reason why employees come to work for them. Large companies are also more likely to offer benefits that guarantee income in retirement. While 35% of all

employers currently offer a defined benefit plan – and 19% offer annuities – the percentages jump to 58% and 46% respectively for the largest companies surveyed. At the same time, small employers with fewer than 50 employees, by contrast, are most likely to pay the full cost of their employees’ medical insurance (35%, compared with 16% of companies with 10,000 or more employees).

Importance of Benefits in Job Choice

Nearly one-third (31%) of employees cite benefits as an important reason why they came to work for their employer, up from 25% in 2004 and 2003. Pre-retirees (44%) and Young Families with children under the age of six (41%) in particular see benefits as an important criterion in their job search and selection.

In other key areas of concern, recruiting and retention have emerged as top concerns for employers in 2006, MetLife said in the announcement. Among Young Families with children under the age of six, the job market has been particularly active, with 31% of employees in this life stage reporting a change of employer over the past year and a half, MetLife said. In this increasingly competitive job market, employees report that their top consideration when deciding whether to join and/or remain with an employer is “the quality of co-worker and/or customer relationships,” cited by 58% of employees overall and 62% of women.

Work/Life Balance

Young Baby Boomers age 41 – 50 (61%) and Pre-retirees age 61 -69 (67%) are most likely to cite relationships as a deciding factor. Among all age groups, the opportunity for work/life balance was cited as the second most important recruitment/retention criterion, according to the announcement.

More than half (56%) of today’s employees rate work/life balance as a key job selection criterion, with a roughly equal percentage of men (56%) and women (58%) listing “balance” as critical. Rounding out the top three criteria for recruitment/retention is “working for an organization whose purpose/mission I agree with,” cited by more than half (54%) of the employees surveyed.

“To retain top talent in today’s competitive job market, employers need to do more than loosen their purse strings,” notes Maria Morris, executive vice president, Institutional Business, MetLife, in the news release. “As the demand for experienced knowledge-workers intensifies, employers need to understand what motivates – and inspires the loyalty of – today’s high-performing employees. In most cases, it’s not the corner office or a large paycheck, but rather, the opportunity to work for a company that fosters strong workplace relationships and inspires a sense of balance and/or purpose.”

The employee survey used in the study was fielded by NOP World in September and polled 885 full-time employees (age 21 and older) at companies with at least two employees, and an additional 328 employees who work part-time and/or are currently on maternity leave. The employer survey polled a total of 1,514 HR/Benefits executives from companies with at least two employees, and was fielded in September by GfK NOP.

The full study is here . A free registration is required.