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The 2014 Guardian Workplace Benefits Study

Get The Most From Your Employee Benefits

This study examines employer benefits strategies and the value American workers place on their benefits packages. It was conducted in 2013, just prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which has ongoing impacts on how health insurance and other benefits evolve.

The value of benefits in a changing environment

With heightened focus on health insurance changes and the uncertainty surrounding the full impact of the ACA, our data suggests that employees value their benefits even more this year compared to our 2013 study. The study shows an increasing value placed on benefits, including increases in beliefs that workplace benefits meet personal needs, are affordable, positively impact health and wellness, positively impact personal financial security, and are communicated well by employers.

Furthermore, employees are more satisfied with their benefits package this year than last year. A majority of employees report that the benefits they get through work account for more than half of their financial preparedness.

With employers concerned about keeping benefits affordable, our study examines five key issues from both the employer and employee perspectives.

  1. The early impact of the ACA on the employee benefits model:  
    Our research indicates employers are even more sensitive to costs and are receptive to solutions that will reduce administrative expenses and shift a greater share of costs to the employee.
  2. An increased receptivity to outsourcing administration and enrollment functions: 
    Data here suggests that increased reliance on external providers offers advantages for employers. There’s a strong linkage between outsourcing and offering a more robust benefits package, including increased voluntary participation. Employers who outsource tend to be more focused on optimizing benefits enrollment.
  3. The surprising benefits of a healthier workforce:
    While it is expected that a healthier workforce is less likely to be absent and more likely to be productive, this study suggests that healthier workers also enjoy their jobs more and express a greater appreciation of their benefits.
  4. The importance of workplace benefits to the middle class: 
    Middle-income Americans are often the most financially vulnerable because they do not have substantial financial resources and are also not protected by the social safety net to the extent that low-income Americans are. Insights confirm how critical employee benefits are to their well-being.
  5. How Do-It-Yourselfers, many of whom are millennials, engage with their benefits: 
    Do-It-Yourselfers, those who manage their own finances, are relying on the workplace for most of their information and financial needs but are not actually achieving their goals.

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