Benefits satisfaction increasing, but health care costs still vex employees
American workers overall are pretty satisfied with their benefits, though they continue to have financial concerns regarding health care, according to the 2018 Aflac WorkForces Report.
A majority (61 percent) of workers are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits, compared with 46 percent in 2011—a new high since the first Aflac WorkForces Report was released in 2011. Most (81 percent) employers agree that their benefits offerings increase employee satisfaction.
Workers, however, continue to have concerns about how to cover the costs of health care, perhaps exacerbated by the fact that only half of them have a solid understanding of their total annual cost for health care coverage and care. Indeed, 19 percent did not feel confident they understood everything they signed up for after their most recent benefits enrollment. This could be due to the fact that many of them (56 percent) spend less than a half hour researching their benefits options during the last open enrollment, including 19 percent who didn’t do any research at all.
“Lack of information is the leading deterrent to employees being confident about their benefits selections,” says Matthew Owenby, senior vice president, chief human resources officer at Aflac. “Knowing how much time the average worker spends researching benefits options, employers need a multipronged approach to provide employees with easy-to-understand information across all channels, including face-to-face access to knowledgeable experts, which is preferred by many workers.”
Just 68 percent of employers say they believe their employees have enough options available to help them meet their health care financial obligations, down from 73 percent last year. With many aware of their financial challenges, a strong majority of employees (85 percent) also see a growing need for voluntary insurance benefits, a sentiment that has grown significantly and is up from 63 percent in 2014.
In addition to helping workers cover costs that may not be covered by major medical insurance, voluntary insurance can help pay additional dividends. The Aflac study found that job satisfaction rises from 65 percent for the overall population to 69 percent among employees in organizations where voluntary benefits are offered and 75 percent when enrolled.
“Our study shows more employers are realizing how the benefits package is one of the strongest influences on the overall well-being and job satisfaction of today’s more empowered, benefits-driven employees,” Owenby says. “However, despite the all-around positive feelings around benefits, the AWR research also shows that employers and employees have work to do to promote better educated, more financially sound health care benefits decisions.”