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MetLife has been conducting Employee Benefit Trends studies since 2003.   Of course, each year the results are a little different than the last, and the study conducted in November 2009, and released in early 2010 is no exception.  This year’s findings were overlaid with our current economic challenges, and so the conclusions of the study represent that context.  Specifically, the 2010 study found the most important employer benefits objectives during this period of the recession were:

●       Controlling health and welfare benefits costs

●       Retaining employees

●       Increasing employee productivity

Employer Challenges of the Recession

During this recession, those employers who reduced benefits saw reduced job satisfaction scores as well, perhaps meaning there is a price for cutting benefits that may make the savings less worthwhile.  Additionally, job satisfaction declined from 2008 to 2009 (53% in 2009 vs. 59% in Nov. 2008).

Productivity gains associated with job insecurity may not be sustainable once unemployment improves, and the study concluded that employers should consider more long-term strategies to maintain productivity efficiencies.

The loyalty gap persists from previous years:  Employers overestimate their employees’ perceptions of employer loyalty, which could result in a retention risk.

Employee Benefits Contribute to Loyalty and Productivity

While employer have many challenges in this economy, there are some positive findings as well. Work-life balance programs contribute to employee loyalty and improve productivity.  And perhaps because most employers preserved benefits during the recession, benefits satisfaction is higher than before the crisis (42% vs. 37%).  There is a high correlation between benefits satisfaction and job satisfaction. This is a positive sign for retention goals.