'Views on the Value of Voluntary Workplace Benefits: Findings from the 2015 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey,' and 'Evidence on Defined Contribution Health and Retirement Benefits: The Road Ahead'

November 2015, Vol. 36, No. 11
Paperback, 28 pp.
PDF, 1,645 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2015

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Executive Summary

Views on the Value of Voluntary Workplace Benefits: Findings from the 2015 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey



  • Three-quarters of workers state that the benefits package an employer offers prospective workers is extremely (36 percent) or very (41 percent) important in their decision to accept or reject a job. • Nevertheless, 30 percent are only somewhat satisfied with the benefits offered by their current employer, and 20 percent are not satisfied.
  • Eighty-eight percent of workers report that employment-based health insurance is extremely or very important, far more than for any other workplace benefit.
  • Workers identify lower cost (compared with purchasing benefits on their own) and choice as strong advantages of voluntary employment-based benefits. However, they are split with respect to their comfort in having their employer choose their benefits providers, and think the possibility that they may have to pay the full cost of any voluntary benefits is a disadvantage.

Evidence on Defined Contribution Health and Retirement Benefits: The Road Ahead



  • For more than a quarter-century now, most private-sector American workers who have a retirement plan at work have funded it primarily through their own contributions—and do not have a traditional pension funded exclusively by the employer. Various new retirement policy proposals could go in opposite directions: encourage greater participation in retirement plans (such as with auto-IRAs), change employee 401(k) contributions through a “stretch match” ( to increase account balances)—or possibly even cut federal tax incentives for workplace retirement plans.
  • While the majority of private-sector health benefit costs historically have been paid by employers, that may be starting to change with the advent of “defined contribution” health plans that cap employers’ health costs.
  • These trends have major implications for the American work force, the U.S. health care system, and even economic security in the nation. These issues were explored at EBRI’s 76th policy forum held in Washington, DC, last May. Experts from a cross-section of employers, nonprofits, consulting firms, think-tanks and trade associations shared their observations and experiences with defined contribution benefits with both health and retirement plans, and what “The Road Ahead” looks like.