EBRI Issue Brief

The State of Employee Benefits: Findings From the 2018 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey

Jan 10, 2019 16  pages


Over the last 20 years, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald & Associates have surveyed employees to understand what types of benefits they value, how satisfied they are with those benefits, their perspectives on health benefits and health care, as well as the future of employee benefits. In the 2018 survey we find:

  • Despite a tight labor market, fewer employees report that their employers are offering benefits: Health insurance remains the most frequently offered at 78 percent, followed by dental insurance at 68 percent and retirement savings plans at 67 percent.
  • Likewise, fewer workers received benefits from their employers in 2018 compared to 2017.Declines can be observed in 8 out of the 10 most popular benefit offerings.
  • The percentage of employees accessing voluntary benefits is only 12 percent. Of that, 61 percent say they do so because it is less expensive to buy it through their employer than on their own — more than the 51 percent who cited this reason in 2017.
  • More employees are stressed by the prospect of not saving enough for retirement than about any other financial concern that might be addressed through employee benefits. This includes paying monthly bills or managing debt. Baby Boomers are more likely than Millennials to report that saving enough for retirement causes financial stress, while Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers to report that paying monthly bills and student loan repayment cause financial stress.
  • Employees are generally satisfied with their current benefits package. Just over one-half of employees (51 percent) indicate they are very or extremely satisfied with their benefits; another 30 percent are somewhat satisfied. The proportion that is not at all satisfied remains relatively low at 9 percent.
  • More than one-third (37 percent) of employees indicate that their employer or benefits company provides no education or advice on benefits. At the same time, depending on the benefit, between 64 percent and 76 percent of employees report that it is either somewhat easy or very easy to find information on what is included.
  • As such, in 2018, a majority (64 percent) of employees said they are extremely or very confident in their ability to make benefits decisions. That is up slightly from 2017 and represents a leveling off as this indicator had slipped each of the past two years.