Are benefits still worth it?

By Kathryn Mayer

As if your job wasn’t hard enough right now.

I hate to tell you this, but people are starting to care less and less about benefits in the workplace.

At least that’s what Mercer’s Workplace Survey suggests, which revealed that the value of benefits is starting to erode. So much so that now, the number of workers under 50 years of age who say their benefits are “definitely worth it,” in terms of what they pay out of pocket, has fallen precipitously in just two years from 45 percent to 30 percent.


Findings show that the decreased value perception is being driven by concerns about rising out-of-pocket health costs and a younger — and apparently unimpressed — workforce.

This is pretty alarming. (That’s the same word Mercer used, too, to describe the findings, and a pretty good summary at that.) And as much as you might not want to hear it, sometimes you need to.

With PPACA changing the way benefits are delivered (and perceived) and employers throwing more costs onto the employee, it’s difficult to stay pumped about benefits these days.

Personally, I’m less enchanted than ever with my insurance plan. My premium is higher and so are my out-of-pocket costs.

(And don’t get me started on the “vision plan” I bought through my employer, which my eye doctor refused and only offered a small discount on contacts, which was less than I paid in premiums for getting it.)

But I still have to admit that I don’t know where I’d be without my benefits. It’s always been top-of-mind when considering job prospects. In fact, my benefits package was so robust at my previous job — at a university — that it made it incredibly hard to leave it though I wanted to move to another opportunity.

Mercer’s survey reached a similar conclusion. Overall, workers see benefits as “critically important.” Specifically, 93 percent agree with the statement “my health benefits are as important as my salary,” while 86 percent disagree with the statement “my benefits don’t matter much to me.”

I have to believe that with all the negative press health insurance is getting, your job as a broker (or an employer) to explain just how important these benefits are (and, simply, to explain how they work) is more vital than ever.

Mercer, too, has some ideas to help turn the trend around. For one, the consulting firm suggests brokers design and implement benefit plans that are more relevant and customizable to individual participants. More choice, more voluntary products, consumer-driven options and so on.

So despite the bad news, just remember to go back to basics and keep your head held high.

Or, if that doesn’t work, just browse through our site for some other (better) survey results. On the flip side, Guardian this week found that employees value their benefits more than ever.

Originally published on