Nearly four years after the financial crisis began, fewer employers and employees are reporting severe negative economic effects. However, both groups exhibit declining optimism about how they will be doing financially a year from now. According to Sharpening the Focus on Benefits Strategy, the first in a series of research briefs stemming from The Seventh Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond from The Prudential Insurance Company of America (Prudential) , 14% of both employers and employees cite severe negative economic effects, down significantly from 2010 results of 27% for employers and 22% for employees. Conversely, employers who say their financial position will be better or improving in one year dropped from 70% in 2010 to 54% this year; employees report a drop from 44% to 38%.
“Prudential’s flagship study continues to be an essential source of trend data on the benefits marketplace. Our research data shows that despite the indicators of economic recovery, it is taking longer for American employers and employees to regain full confidence in the future,” notes Steve Pelletier, president of Prudential Group Insurance. “The good news, however, is that this view of the future doesn’t negatively impact benefits decisions. In fact, benefit strategies have been evolving into a main focus for businesses of all sizes.”
Employers report a 17% increase over 2010 results in making benefits strategies a main focus. With shifting ownership and cost of benefits to employees, employers’ top strategies are, in priority order:
- Expanding wellness, preventive, and work/life balance initiatives
- Improving the effectiveness of benefits communications
- Cost-sharing with employees
- Giving more financial responsibility to employees
- Increasing employee benefits education and financial advice
From their viewpoint, 79% of employees see their employers as a trustworthy source to help them grow and protect their money, second only to credit unions (81%.) And, the perceived value of employee benefits has been trending upward, from 43% in 2010 to 59% today. Fifty-one percent of employees believe they are being offered a wide array of benefits, up from 38% two years ago.