The State of Employee Benefits: Findings from the 2017 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey

The State of Employee Benefits: Findings from the 2017 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey

Volume 448

Pages 13

Executive Summary

The EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Health and Workplace Benefits Survey (WBS) studies a wide array of topics related to employee benefits including employees’ knowledge of their benefits, confidence in making benefit decisions and satisfaction with their benefits package. Because the survey has been conducted over several years, researchers from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald & Associates are able to trend results to gain an understanding of employees’ changing perspective about their benefits over time.

The 2017 survey was conducted online June 13-22, 2017, using the Research Now consumer panel. A total of 1,518 workers in the United States ages 21 to 64 participated in the survey. The data were weighted by gender, age, and education to reflect the actual proportions in the employed population.

This EBRI Issue Brief identifies the key findings from the 2017 survey:

  • Benefit offerings generally remain similar between years, with the most frequently offered benefits being health insurance (67 percent), dental insurance (59 percent) and retirement savings plans (57 percent). The exceptions are disability insurance and traditional pension plans, which have declined in prevalence since 2013.
  • Just over one-half (52 percent) of employees say they understand their health benefits and 43 percent indicate they understand their non-health benefits very/extremely well. Both statistics are down from 2016, when 61 percent indicated they understood their health benefits and 48 percent said they understood their non-health benefits very/extremely well.
  • Nonetheless, most employees are satisfied with their benefits: Nearly one-half of employees indicate they are very or extremely satisfied with their benefits; another 36 percent say they are somewhat satisfied. In addition, employee satisfaction with benefits relates to overall job satisfaction. Employees who are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits are more likely to say they are extremely/very satisfied with their job.
  • Further, benefits continue to be valued by employees. Health insurance, retirement plans, dental, vision and life insurance continue to be highly important when making job change decisions. In fact, more than 4 in 10 say they would forgo a wage increase to receive an increase in their work-life balance benefits, and nearly two in ten state a preference for more health benefits and lower wages.
  • Still, fewer than one-half of employees are confident that in three years their employer will offer benefits similar to today. Those anticipating change tend to predict weakening benefits offerings.

EBRI Issue Brief

April 10, 2018

Paul Fronstin

Lisa Greenwald

Health Financial Wellbeing

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(EBRI). Lisa Greenwald is executive vice president for Greenwald & Associates. This Issue Brief was written with As seen in years past, benefits are a critical component to any job. While employees are generally satisfied with their Health and Workplace Benefits Survey b t Iha n 2017 ene t tfit he d , ire 83 e cis m p ion. pelo rcye Tha ent r or s t a is b y e d tne h ow afit t n fr he s ca om oltm h ins p73 any ur p e p arr nc cov ee nt ide is in 201 s no very e or 5 d( uc e Fxt igur atrion o em e e 8l)ry . aI im d n a vpic or ded t a it on n ion, t bin d ene ma efit n cidin y s. e m Only g p w loy he 39 e te he s pre sa r tc o ye st nt the a y syt a in w t e ould or th cah tsee a tn hg e ke ir c aur ssr ist ent anc be e ne from fits p the ac k In ag steits, t uteh’s r ere e sea is grrcow h a ing nd ceonc ditor eria n l s ab ta ou ffs. t w Aha nyt v the iew st s e atxpress e of em ed p loy in tehi r-s r sponsor eport e ad re b te hose nefits of wtill he b a eu in thor the s By Paul Fronstin, Employee Benefit Research Institute, and Lisa Greenwald, Greenwald & jgu eob mida p s. loy nc A e ree r tin m p irre ov m a ide eknt ing s e sa d dve uc ings p cis ation ionlsa on n if g ishow iv ae lso o n th hene e a ltc h insu ha of n the cer. a cW n rit che ic e a w n l or b pe rk e ne s, 24 sent fits, e p dw e w ritch 73 it eh a nt s p si ae y tua r c th e ta nt ion w t tindi heh ir ce a e rte m ing a pn e loy it e m isr p e p loy xt rov re eide rm p ersly ov e or d ide uc vsa e ta rio y c c n o ess n and should not be ascribed to the officers, trustees, or other sponsors of EBRI, Employee Benefit Research Institute- future. When asked how confident they are that in three years their employer will offer benefits similar to today, only ApriFi l 1 gur 0e , 2 11 0, 1Ben 8 •e N fits Sa o. t4 is48 fact ion, Job Satisfaction and Employee Morale, 2017 .......................................................... 10 im t how As o p asor oc b ate a he ne ia nta t fit e in d lts a h s s e d atv v eiings r sor mini aa t ng c no coun wc hoe tst tw he , or 55 r k t s o p,e st a rnd c ay en in 28 t sa o p ry e swit rtc he ent y c h job acro enf vsir e m ( rFi y g tor h ur a e te xt t14) he reir m . e e m ly p lik loy ely er toffe o con rssu ed ltuc thaattion o advis n how or (Fi g to urin ev 9 e). st 19 Ed uc pe artc ion a ent of nd eRe mp sea loyre ce h Fun s sayd t he (EB y RI ar-eE RF) extr, eo m r e tly he c iron stfide affs. nt N aend ithe arno EtB he RIr nor 30 p EeBrR ce I- nE tRF l sayob the bie y s or are v ta ek re ys p confi osit dions ent (on Figure money in the retirement plan (Figure 7). specific policy proposals. EBRI invites comment on this research. 15). For employers, the challenge is how to provide the strong employee benefits package that employees want and Figure 12, Willingness to Forgo Wage Increase for Increase in Work-Life Balance Benefits, 2017 .............................. 11 need, while still controlling the costs of these benefits, particularly health care. Introduction Copyright Information: This report is copyrighted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). It may be Figure 13, Trade-off Between Health Benefits Received Today and Wages, 2015- 2017 ............................................ 11 used without permission but citation of the source is required. Over the last 20 years, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald & Associates have surveyed The State of Employee Benefits: Findings from the 2017 Figure 14, Importance of Benefit When Staying or Choosing a New Job, 2013-2017 ................................................. 12 employees to understand what types of benefits they value; how satisfied they are with those benefits; and their Appendix- The 2017 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey Recommended Citation: Paul Fronstin and Lisa Greenwald, “The State of Employee Benefits: Findings from the 2017 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey perspectives on health benefits, health care, and the future of employee benefits. The 2017 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey (WBS) examines a broad Figure 15, Employee Confidence in Employer Benefits in Three Years, 2016-2017 .................................................... 12 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey,” EBRI Issue Brief, no. 448 (Employee Benefit Research Institute, April 10, By Pa spectruul Fro m of hens altth c in, arEmp e issule oyee s, inc Ben ludinge w fior t R kee rs’ sesa arch I tisfactns ion w titut ith he e, a alt nd h c Lis are a tod Gre ay, e the nwa ir cld, onfide Gre nce e nwa in the ld he & a lth 2018). This Issue Brief provides a summary of the recent findings from the 2017 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Health and c As ars e oc sys ia tetm es a nd their attitudes toward benefits in the workplace. Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey (WBS). It highlights changes in employee viewpoints over time, especially Report availability: This report is available on the internet at www.ebri.org changes related to valuation of benefits. The WBS is co-sponsored by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, public- policy research organization, and Greenwald & Associates, a Washington, DC based market research firm. The 2017 A T A G L A N C E 2017 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey Partners WBS data collection was funded by six private organizations. Staffing was donated by EBRI and Greenwald & Coverage: What Benefits Do Employees Have Today? Associates. Additional WBS materials may be accessed at the EBRI website: www.ebri.org/surveys/hcs. This survey is made possible with funding support from the following organizations: AXA Equitable Financial Services, The EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Health and Workplace Benefits Survey (WBS) studies a wide array of topics related Employees receive a wide variety of benefits from their workplace, both employer-sponsored as well as voluntary LLC, Cigna, Mercer LLC, Prudential Financial Inc., The Segal Group, Inc., and Unum Group. to employee benefits including employees’ knowledge of their benefits, confidence in making benefit decisions and T be he ne 20 fits. 17Fi su gur rve e y1 w sh as ow cond s thuc at tt ehe d onlin perce e nt June age 13 of -e 22 m, p20 loy17 ee, s indic using att he ing Re the sea y rrceh N ceiv ow e spe consu cific m b ee rne pafit ne s su l. Ac h tot aa s l o he f 1,5 alth 18 satisfaction with their benefits package. Because the survey has been conducted over several years, researchers from ins wor ur ke anc rs in t e, dhe ent Unit al ins ed u rSt an ac te es aa nd gers 21 etire -64 me p nt a rsta icvipa ings f tedr om in t hte he su ir re vm ey p. loy The er d ha ats in a we cre re a sed wei g ov hteerd t im bye g . eThi nde s rin , c argeea,s a end in the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald & Associates are able to trend results to gain an e offe duc rings ation ist o ge re ne flec rall t yt he con asi ctst ua el nt p raop cror oss tions mo st in t bhe ene efit ms, ploy exe ce dp p t op for ula trtaion. dition al pensions or defined benefit plans, as well as Table of Contents understanding of employees’ changing perspective about their benefits over time. short-term and long-term disability. Introduction .............................................................................................................................................. 4 Previously published trend data from the EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Health Confidence Survey (HCS) may differ The 2017 survey was conducted onlin e June 13-22, 2017, using the Research Now consumer panel. A total of 1,518 from those published in more recent reports as the prior data have been recut from the total adult population to match Coverage: What Benefits Do Employees Have Today? .................................................................................. 4 w orkers in the United States ages 21 t o 64 participated in the survey. The data were weighted by gender, age, and the survey population of the WBS: workers ages 21–64. In addition, comparisons of 2016 data with data from years education to reflect the actual proportions in the employed population. Knowledge: How Well Do Employees Understand Their Benefits? .................................................................. 5 before 2013 should be viewed with caution due to the move from telephone to online methodology in 2013. Student Loan Assistance: In the last few years, there has been concern about the new generation of college This EBRI Issue Brief identifies the key findings from the 2017 survey: Importance of Benefits: Satisfaction and Valuation ....................................................................................... 9 No theoretical basis exists for judging the accuracy of estimates obtained from non-probability samples such as the one graduates entering the workforce with a tremendous amount of student-loan debt. In response to this trend, used for the WBS. However, there are possible sources of error in all surveys (both probability and non-probability) that Importance of Benefits: Satisfaction and Valuation ? Benefit offerings generally remain similar between years, with the most frequently offered benefits being Conc emp luloy sion: ers ha Con vfide e be nc en loo e in tk hing e Fu at tur we a y of s tEhe my p lo ca yn he ee Blp ene this fits n ................................ ew generation becom................................ e more financially secu ........ re. N e 12 w this may affect the reliability of survey results. These include imperfect sampling frames, refusals to be interviewed and Nonethele he ss a, lth ins employ ura enc es a e (r67 e g p ee ne rcre ant lly) , sa dteisf ntie al insu d with th rance eir ( 59 cur r peent rc e bnt ene ) afit nd s p re atcir ke am ge e. nN t e sa av rlings p y one-la ha ns lf of (57e p mep rloy cent ee ). s The (48 year, employees have been asked if employers provide some level of student-loan-debt relief or repayment other forms of nonresponse, the effects of question wording and question order, and screening. While attempts are Appendix- The 2017 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey ........................................................................ 13 percent) eindic xcepattions e the ay re a r de is v ae brili yt y or ins ext ur ra en m ce ely a nd satitsf raie dd it io wna ithl p the ens ir ion bene pla fit ns s, a , w no hic the h ha r 36 ve p d ee rc clin ent e d a rin p e som reve aw leha ncte sa sin tis ce fie 20 d 13. assistance. Thirteen percent say that their employer provides student-loan-debt relief/repayment assistance. made to minimize these factors, it is impossible to quantify the errors that may result from them. (Figure 10 ). The proportion that is not at all satisfied is at a three-year low, at 6 percent. ? Just over one-half (52 percent) of employees say they understand their health benefits and 43 percent indicate Figures In addition to traditional benefits, a small percentage of employees access voluntary benefits (13 percent). As in past In addition, the study finds that employee satisfaction with benefits relates to overall job satisfaction. Figure 10 shows they understand their non-health benefits very/extremely well. Both statistics are down from 2016, when 61 years, employees say they purchase this coverage because it is less costly than what they can purchase on their own employees who are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits are more likely to say they are extremely/very Figure 1, Percentage of Employees Reporting Benefits Offered by Employer, 2013-2017 ............................................. 4 percent indicated they understood their health benefits and 48 percent said they understood their non-health (51 percent), they like the ease of payroll deductions (46 percent) and they want to protect against financial loss (39 satisfied with their job. Similarly, those who are extremely/very satisfied with their benefits are more likely to say benefits very/extremely well. Figure 2, Percentage of Employees Reporting Paid Leave Offered by Employer, 2017 ................................................. 5 percent) (Figure 3). employee morale at the workplace is excellent or very good (Figure 11). ? Nonetheless, most employees are satisfied with their benefits: Nearly one-half of employees indicate they are Figure 3, Reasons for Purchasing Voluntary Benefits, 2017 ....................................................................................... 6 Interestingly, employees with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are slightly more likely to have voluntary benefits Although employees are satisfied with benefits, there is the overarching question of how valuable benefits are in very or extremely satisfied with their benefits; another 36 percent say they are somewhat satisfied. In addition, (18 percent versus 13 percent for non-HDHP participants). When asked why they choose to purchase voluntary relation to wages. Employees responded to two questions regarding the trade-off between wages and benefits. In the Figure 4, eRe mp aloy sons ee E sa mtp isloy face te ion w s witit h High h bene -D fit es r duc ela tible tes t Ho ea ov lth er P ala ll job ns Psa urtcih sfaase ction. Volun Em taprlo y y Be ee ne s w fitho s, 201 are 7e ............................ xtremely or very 6 b enefits, HDHP participants are more likely to note cost and a desire to protect against income loss or unexpected first instance, they must choose between a wage increase next year versus an increase in their work-life balance satisfied with their benefits are more likely to say they are extremely/very satisfied with their job. expenses than non-HDHP participants (Figure 4). benefits, such as paid time off or telecommuting. Forty-four percent say they would give up a wage increase for Figure 5, Employees’ Understanding of Health Benefits, 2016-2017 ........................................................................... 7 increased work-life balance benefits (Figure 12). In the second trade-off scenario, employees must rate their ? Further, benefits continue to be valued by employees. Health insurance, retirement plans, dental, vision and sa Fig tiur sfe a c6 t, ion w Empit loy h he ees’ altUnd h be ene rstfit anding s as it of relN aon tes t -Ho ea highe lth Be r/l ne ow fite s, 201 r wag6 e-s. Sixt 2017 ................................ y-three percent indica................................ te satisfaction with the .... 7 life insurance continue to be highly important when making job change decisions. In fact, more than 4 in 10 Knowledge: How Well Do Employees Understand Their Benefits? health benefits they receive right now, while 17 percent say they would rather have more health benefits and lower say they would forgo a wage increase to receive an increase in their work-life balance benefits, and nearly two E Fim gur ploy e 7 e, eE kdnow ucatle ion o dge rof Ad the vicir e b Pe rov neide fitsd v b ar yie Esm bp aloy sed e ron or tB he ene tyfit pe s C of om bep ne any fit. , 20 Fig17 ur e ................................ 5 shows that just ove ........................ r one-half (52 8 wages. Another 20 percent say they would prefer fewer health benefits and higher wages (Figure 13). in ten state a preference for more health benefits and lower wages. percent) of employees say they understand their health benefits very or extremely well. When asked about non-health Figure 8, Employee Confidence in Making Benefits Decisions, 2015-2017 ................................................................... 8 Recently, there has been much interest in employer-sponsored paid leave policies across the United States, both in b enefits, that number drops slightly, with only 43 percent indicating they understand these benefits extremely or very term ?s of St sic illk, le fea w ve er atnd han faone mily -h le alf of ave p eolic mpie loy s. I een 2 s ar 0e 17 c, on 84 fid p ee nt rc e th nt a tof in etm hrp eloy e yeeeas rs sa the y tir h e eym rp elo ceyiv er e w pa illid offe vac r abte ion ti nefitm s e and EBRI Issue Brief is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. ISSN: 0887 ?137X/90 0887 ?137X/90 $ .50+.50 well (Figure 6). Figure 9, Employee Likelihood of Using Benefit Advisor, 2015-2017 ........................................................................... 9 71 percesi ntm silaayr tthe o tyod re acye . iv Tho e pse aid asi ntcik c ip leaatv ing e. I cn a hange ddit ion, tend 45 to p perrecd eic nt t w of ee am kep nin loyge e bs ene sta fit te s offe theirr ing com s.p any offers paid © 2018, Employee Benefit Research Institute ?Education and Research Fund. 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