- Seventy percent of working adults are more interested in long-term benefits, such as 401(k) plans, over short-term benefits such as personal fitness memberships, according to a Feb. 25 Ernst & Young (EY) survey. Competitive pay and generous health care drew the most support as the workplace benefits that mattered the most.
- Despite the preference for long-term benefits, a third of workers do not take full advantage of their benefits. And 37% of those said they do not understand the benefits available to them. Thirty-six percent of female respondents who do not make full use of their benefits said the offerings failed to meet their needs.
- A third of workers do not use up their allotted PTO, the survey found. Of the millennials who did so, 38% said they left days unused to show their dedication. Forty percent of respondents said they had taken a mental health day.
When it comes to benefits, usage gaps are a key concern for employers. As the EY study found, a third of workers aren't taking full advantage of the benefits their companies offer, and it may be because they don't understand their choices. Workers spend an average of 18 minutes enrolling in their benefits — a much smaller chunk of time as compared to the four hours they spend purchasing a mobile phone, a May 2019 PlanSource report found. To combat this, employers may want to carefully plan open enrollment to provide workers (especially those who are new to selecting their benefits) plenty of opportunities to ask questions and consider their options.
As benefits pros design their packages, it's also worth noting what workers expect from their benefits. Many demand customizable, personalized offerings. This may be of particular importance to working women, as the EY survey and previous reports found. In fact, 87% of working women said their benefits packages were important or very important, but 40% said the women's health and family-friendly benefits are lacking, according to a May 2019 Fairygodboss survey.
Employers also are recognizing the importance of mental wellbeing, as the EY survey also showed. A National Business Group on Health survey released in July showed that respondents wanted their employer's help with their mental health needs, along with their financial wellbeing. In fact, nearly a third of the respondents said they want overall support for their mental health, about 1 in 4 said they want resources to help them sleep better and 2 in 5 said they wanted their employer's help with burnout on the job.