Mercer, the world’s leading consultancy for health, wealth and talent performance announced today that while benefits remain a critical part of the overall employee experience, the perceived value of workplace benefits among employees who participate in both health and retirement plans is starting to erode. This alarming trend was revealed in the latest edition of the Mercer Workplace SurveyTM, an authoritative and broadly cited study that measures the attitudes and perceptions of benefit plan participants nationwide. The good news is that Mercer has identified ways to enhance both benefit delivery and choice, thereby improving employee perception of benefits.
With benefit coverage cost, reach and adequacy seeming to dominate US news headlines, this drop in perceived value should be of major concern to employers, legislators, regulators and other concerned parties. A closer examination of the findings shows that the decreased value perception is being driven by concerns about rising out-of-pocket health costs. And, perhaps of most concern, workers under 50 years of age who say their benefits are “definitely worth it” in terms of what they pay out of pocket has dropped precipitously in just two years from 45% to 30%.
Even with these concerns, participants overall see benefits as critically important. In fact, 93% agree with the statement “my health benefits are as important as my salary,” while 86% disagree with the statement “my benefits don’t matter much to me.”
“Year after year, we find our survey respondents ranking benefits as one of the most important components of their employment value proposition,” said Kerry Donoghue, Partner, Health and Benefits Business Leader for Mercer’s benefits administration business. “We feel strongly, however, that there are some areas of concern that plan sponsors must take into account as they evaluate and design their benefit plans, particularly as it relates to discontent about rising out-of-pocket expenses and an overall level of relative dissatisfaction among younger employees.”