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The Guardian Workplace Benefits Study: Third Annual

Group at table discussing research in the Third Annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study.

Our third annual Workplace Benefits Study confirms that employees continue to value and rely on the benefits their employer offers. 65% of employees believe their benefits positively impacts their overall financial security but they feel they need help. Only 3 in 10 workers say they feel financially secure1 and this study shows what little security they feel is dependent on the insurance and savings benefits they receive at the workplace. Without those offerings, most employees believe they would face financial hardship.

Rethinking responsibility and strategy for employee benefits

Given their reliance on workplace benefits, it's not surprising employees believe their employers have a responsibility to offer core insurance and retirement benefits. While few employers believe it is their "responsibility" to provide benefits, they do believe they play a role in helping employees and their families achieve financial security. Our research shows employers remain committed to offering affordable benefits that meet their employees’ needs. And more so than last year, employers are demonstrating a renewed focus on improving employee satisfaction and helping employees make the right choices for their financial needs.

As employers face growing challenges as they try to balance employees' well-being with containing benefits-related company costs, they are rethinking how benefits are funded, delivered and communicated and trying to find mutually beneficial solutions.

This year's study examines five key areas that present challenges and opportunities for today's employers and employees:

  1. The workplace remains a foundation of financial security:
    Despite an evolving and complicated benefits landscape, employees reaffirm the importance of their workplace benefits and the role benefits play in their overall financial security. Employers, however, may be underestimating employees' positive views.  
  2. Employers are rethinking their benefits strategies:
    For most employers, cost control is of even greater concern this year. But recent trends also find employers placing increasing importance on how employees perceive the value of their benefits package. Employers are seeking ways to balance costs while helping employees make better benefits choices and take advantage of the benefits available to them.
  3. The Affordable Care Act is influencing the way employers fund and deliver benefits programs:
    Overwhelmed by the enormity of change brought about by the ACA, many employers expect the compliance and administrative burden to be great. To manage what they predict will be substantial cost increases as a result of the ACA, companies are considering new options, like, self-insuring, and moving to exchanges.  
  4. Advancements in outsourced expertise and technology are reshaping the benefits landscape:
    To control costs, improve efficiency and keep up with legal and regulatory changes impacting their benefits programs, employers are increasingly looking to outsource elements of administration, enrollment, and absence management.  
  5. Tailored benefits and communications better address employee needs at different work stages:
    More so than last year, employers want to increase access to education to help their employees make the right decisions. They are taking a refreshed look at how they can tailor their enrollment processes and ongoing communication to be in line with the individual needs of each employee. In particular, employees starting their careers and those approaching retirement have very different financial needs and prefer benefits and communications relevant to their respective situations.

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