Study: Most Employers Don’t Plan on Cutting Benefits


NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Here’s some good news for the U.S. workforce – a study by MetLife shows that nine out of 10 employers plan on keeping employee benefits and don’t plan on any cuts in this tepid economy. That should keep more savings in consumers’ pockets, and provide more financial stability for both workers and employers.

The study, released Monday, shows that – far and away – American employers are apparently digging in their heels and don’t plan on reducing benefits. Study participants included more than 1,500 decision makers and more than 1,400 employees at U.S. companies.

The study also shows that younger workers are highly anxious about their financial futures (not exactly a shocker given the economic hangover of the past five years).

The insurance company says that 49% of employees surveyed say they are more dependent on employee benefits to help secure their financial situation, but that number jumps to 55% for workers in their 30s and early 40s, and to 66% for employees in their 20s (aka “Generation Y”).

Based on the MetLife study results, it’s increasingly evident that employees are using employee benefits as a shield against a sour economy, and that’s a trend that U.S. companies don’t seem to mind a bit.

According to the survey, 60% of executives see increased employee reliance as a net gain for employers. The study says that companies are “creating additional opportunities to leverage workplace benefits programs to achieve their objectives, and only about 10%, regardless of company size, say they plan to reduce benefits.”

Here are some additional points from executives included in the study:

  • 91% feel strongly that benefits can be used to retain employees.
  • 86% say that benefits can greatly increase employee productivity.
  • 80% feel that benefits can greatly help attract employees.

MetLife also says that Generation Y employees are growing more risk-averse than their baby boomer elders, with 81% of young workers saying they’re OK with getting lower returns on their investments as long as they don’t lose any money from their investment portfolios (compared to 76% of boomers).

There’s a glaring reason for that slide toward conservative investments by younger workers. The study shows that most of them – 84%, in fact – aren’t counting on Social Security, even though the money going to fund the government portfolio of their retirement portfolio still comes out of their salary every payday. And 52% are “very concerned” they won’t have enough money for retirement.

“Despite continuing to contribute towards Social Security, approximately four out of five younger workers believe the amount of money they can expect to receive from Social Security will be significantly reduced relative to today’s recipients,” said Dr. Ronald S. Leopold, vice president of MetLife, in a press release. “Gen Y and Gen X recognize that they will be shouldering more of the responsibility for their long-term security but are looking to employers for help even if they have to pay for some of these benefits themselves.”

Let’s file this one in the “strange bedfellows” department. That need for “long-term security” should bind employees and employers even tighter in a turbulent job market – not a bad thing for either party, and not a bad thing for the U.S. economy.

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