Workers Say Getting Benefits Right Is Even More Important This Year – and COVID-19 Is the Main Cause

Sep 22, 2020 08:20 am
NEW YORK -- 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the lives and finances of employees across the U.S., new findings show it is causing workers to take a closer look at their employer-offered benefits.

According to a new MetLife survey on open enrollment, employees are placing heightened importance on the benefits election process – with nearly half (48 percent) saying open enrollment is more important this year than last.

Two-thirds of these employees (67 percent) cite a pandemic-related reason for the increased importance placed on this year’s employee benefits enrollment. Other leading concerns are personal finance issues (34 percent) – including worries over financial security or losing income due to COVID-19 – and rising healthcare costs (31 percent).

According to the survey, employee interest in specific benefits has also grown. Roughly one in four employees are more interested in life insurance and dental insurance this year, and one in five are more interested in pre-tax health and flexible savings accounts (i.e. HSA, FSA), as well as financial planning/education tools. Forty percent of employees say they intend to spend more time selecting benefits from their employer this year. Nearly six in 10 (57 percent) previously spent a few hours or less researching and choosing their benefits, with one in eight (13 percent) saying they previously spent more time picking out what to watch on TV or streaming services than making selections during open enrollment.

“The pandemic has caused a serious disruption to employees’ lives, fundamentally changing the way they approach nearly every aspect of their short- and long-term decision making – including their benefits selections,” said Meredith Ryan-Reid, senior vice president and head of Financial Wellness and Engagement, MetLife. “Workers understand that benefits play a vital role in achieving financial security and will use this year’s enrollment to be more deliberate in how they use these offerings moving forward.”

In the face of a changing environment, employees are more committed to their finances

Employees are approaching open enrollment with a newfound determination to prepare for what’s ahead, and their personal finance is top of mind. The survey found that 69 percent say improving their financial health is one of their most important goals this year, with 45 percent saying they feel insecure about some aspect of their finances – including feeling behind compared to their peers and lacking experience with personal finance.

These insecurities extend to benefits, as well. One in eight employees admit to feeling insecure when making decisions about their benefits, and more than half (51 percent) say they feel more anxious discussing benefits with their loved ones than their fitness and nutrition goals. This presents an opportunity for employers to bolster employee confidence by offering benefit tools and resources that meet current needs while also addressing future goals.

“In this tough environment, it’s important that employers demonstrate an understanding of employee stress, anxiety and insecurities,” said Ryan-Reid. “People have an overwhelming amount of information to digest, so benefits education and enrollment should be easy and accessible. The goal is to give workers a sense of ownership even when the rest of their lives are filled with uncertainty.”

To better understand which benefits can help address employees’ concerns in today’s environment, please visit www.metlife.com/openenrollment for helpful resources, including videos, articles, and the Make Your MatchTM benefit selection support tool, which offers tailored benefit suggestions.

Research Methodology

This report presents the findings of a July 2020 survey conducted among a sample of 1,000 full-time employees in the United States, 21 years of age and older. The study was fielded by Rainmakers CSI – an international strategy, insight and planning consultancy.

About Rainmakers CSI

Rainmakers CSI is a global strategy, insight and planning consultancy. Since its inception in 2007, Rainmakers CSI has worked collaboratively with leading companies to help define opportunities for brands, categories and businesses. Its expertise spans across Financial Services, Food and Drink, Beauty, Healthcare, Telecoms, Technology, Entertainment, and Travel. Rainmakers CSI is headquartered in London and its programs and client relationships span all continents, with 50 percent of its work originating in the US. For more information, visit www.rainmakerscsi.com.

About MetLife

MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates ("MetLife"), is one of the world's leading financial services companies, providing insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management to help its individual and institutional customers navigate their changing world. Founded in 1868, MetLife has operations in more than 40 countries and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.com.

Natalie Geisler
natalie.geisler@metlife.com
646-954-0812