Magazine article Risk Management

What Do Employees Want from Benefits?

Magazine article Risk Management

What Do Employees Want from Benefits?

Article excerpt

For any employee or risk manager whose benefits hotline has been 1-800-GET-LOST, the national survey released by CIGNA Group Insurance at the session Top Ten Concerns Employees Have About Benefits will prove to be a perfect antidote. While every risk manager realizes that workers are entitled to benefits, many may wonder how satisfied and how well informed employees are with respect to the benefits packages their employers provide. Compared to five years ago, how well do current benefit plans meet employee needs? The answers to these and other employee concerns on benefits were unveiled in the CIGNA report.

Because employers' perceptions within the survey differed so broadly from those of their employees, "the risk manager must let go of how things have been done in the past; companies need to keep employees informed about their choices and their future options on benefits," said Margie Spyers, vice president, managed disability marketing, CIGNA Group Insurance, who presented the report's findings.

Further, while 66 percent of employees said they were satisfied with their benefits plan and 70 percent felt they were well-informed, only 34 percent of their managers felt they were as well-informed. Therefore, "you can't duck the issues. Let the employees articulate the new social contract about employee benefits," Ms. Spyers said. After all, as the national downsizing trend continues, many employees will not receive guaranteed retirement packages from their employers; as it stands, 40 million people must now manage their own benefit plans.

Replacing benefits after losing a job or retiring was the number one concern of employees in the CIGNA survey. In part, this may be due to the increased recognition by employees of the real costs of their benefits packages. Along with this concern, Ms. Spyers said, "one in seven people becomes disabled over a lifetime, and what kind of a retirement package will cover this?" But chiefly, she added, "41 percent of employees are afraid of not having any money at all on which to retire."

Interestingly, the survey, which included 300 employees and 150 benefit managers from firms with over 500 people, showed that health care reform continues to be a significant concern of employees. It influenced six of the top ten concerns, including the ability to choose one's own doctor; the potentially negative impact of health care reform; the ability to chose one's own dentist; the quality of care that will be available from doctors in the future; the quality of care received from doctors now; and the quality of care available from dentists in the future. Lack of choice or perceived or actual reduction in quality that results from lack of choice are overall key concerns, Ms. …

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