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

April 2018
EBRI Issue Brief #448
Paperback, 13 pp.
PDF, 1,002 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2018

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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.