Many employees in the United States are requesting more support from their employers when it comes to saving for retirement and overall benefits value.
This is according to Willis Towers Watson’s “Global Benefits Attitudes Survey” that included responses from nearly 5,000 U.S. employees. More than a third of respondents (37%) cited reducing benefit costs as their top benefits priority for 2021, followed by receiving greater benefits security from their employer (26%). Roughly two in 10 employees identified receiving more benefit choices (19%) and having more flexibility in where, when and how often they work (18%) as top priorities.
“The pandemic and its economic impact have strengthened Americans’ desire for greater financial security as well as flexibility, and many are looking to their employers for help,” said Steve Nyce, senior economist, Willis Towers Watson. “At the same time, benefit costs have become a sensitive issue. Employees are paying more for benefits, which in turn is squeezing their take-home pay, and need to find ways to lower or stabilize their costs.”
More than half (53%) of the respondents identified saving for retirement as the area in which they would most like help from their employers. When asked what would best meet their needs to save for retirement, over half of surveyed employees (53%) cited a guaranteed retirement benefit; four in 10 respondents (42%) said receiving more generous retirement benefits in exchange for other benefits and less pay would help meet their needs, while 41% said retiree medical benefits would help. Just over a quarter of employees (29%) said access to other savings and investment products would help meet their needs to save for retirement.
The survey also found retirement security is important to employees of all ages, although their priorities vary. Younger employees desire more flexibility, such as having access to retirement savings for emergencies or other financial needs. Older employees are mostly interested in guaranteed retirement and medical benefits.
Nearly half of respondents (45%) would like their employers’ help with getting the most value from their benefits. Nearly six in 10 (59%) said offering them a single website that lets them review and manage all of their benefits would help them get more value from their benefits. Roughly half (53%) want tools to help them better understand their choices, while 49% want the ability to speak with a benefit specialist when making decisions.
“Many employees have concerns about the cost of benefits and are looking for assistance from their employers,” said Jill Knoke, health and welfare benefits outsourcing leader at Willis Towers Watson. “While providing meaningful choices and decision support tools are not new solutions, they’re a good place for employers to start. By reinvesting in benefit technology and communication, employers can move the needle and help employees better understand their benefit choices, manage costs and ultimately optimize the value of their benefits.”
While work-from-home arrangements have helped both employees and employers during the pandemic, the survey found employees want more assistance to meet their needs. Nearly half of employees (46%) would like their employers to help with work-life effectiveness issues, while 52% indicated that more generous paid time off, vacation and sick leave at the expense of other benefits would best meet those needs. About four in 10 cited greater flexibility in how often they work (44%) and where they work (40%).