Benefits & Compensation News

What is employees’ second most-desired benefit?

Health insurance is the undisputed No. 1 most-valued company-sponsored benefit among employees today — by far. But what’s No. 2? Retirement savings? PTO?

The answer: It’s a retirement savings plan.

That’s according to the 2013 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey, conducted by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), which has spent 20 years determining the importance of different benefits to workers.

The results aren’t surprising, considering the fact that a retirement savings plan has ranked No. 2 for more than a decade. But what is surprising is that it has been rapidly declining in popularity.

In 1999, EBRI’s survey found that 67% of U.S. workers said a retirement savings plan was the first- or second-most important benefit to them. Then that number dipped to 55% in 2004, all the way down to 37% in 2013.

Cutting into the popularity of retirement plans appears to be paid time off (PTO). In 2004, only 16% of employees ranked PTO within their top two most-desirable benefits. That number then jumped to 23% in 2012 and 26% in 2013.

Health insurance holds strong at No. 1

EBRI’s latest survey also revealed that health insurance still has a stranglehold on the top spot when it comes to employees’ most-desired benefits — 78% of employees rated it in their top two.

Health insurance is also the benefit employees say they’re offered the most by their employer.

Here are the most-offered benefits (as determined by the percentage of employees who say they have access to them):

  • Health insurance (76% of employees say their company offers this benefit)
  • Dental insurance (67%)
  • Retirement savings plan (66%)
  • Vision insurance (60%)
  • Life insurance (58%)
  • Short-term disability (55%)
  • Long-term disability (49%)

(Note: PTO was not included as an option in this portion of the survey.)

The benefits employees enroll in most when they’re available to workers:

  • Health insurance (83% enroll when its offered to them)
  • Life insurance (81%)
  • Dental insurance (80%)
  • Retirement savings plan (80%)
  • Traditional pension or defined benefit plan (76%)
  • Vision insurance (73%)
  • Short-term disability (71%)

A total of 1,014 U.S. workers were surveyed between the ages of 21 and 64, and the data was weighted by gender, age and education in an attempt to more accurately reflect the feelings of the U.S. workforce as a whole.

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