Whether employers are listening or not, alarms are sounding that the American workforce is increasingly growing more dissatisfied and disloyal. If businesses continue failing to recognize and respond to such trends as the job market improves, then they could potentially lose key workers to more astute competitors and suffer the consequences of decreased employee productivity.
The above warning stems from the results of MetLife’s 9th Annual Survey of Employee Benefits Trends, which was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2010. The study wasn’t all doom and gloom. It also found some promising data for employers, such as the fact that employers can help restore lost loyalty, encourage their workers to stay with them, and drive engagement by having a well-designed employee benefits package. Some other key findings of the MetLife study included:
- Of all the employees surveyed, 36% hoped to be working for a different employer within the year.
- Increased workload and decreased job security were factors that drove down job satisfaction and loyalty and were the main reasons cited by workers considering a job change.
- Fifty-one percent of workers reported that they were satisfied with their current job. This was an 8% drop from 2008 numbers.
- At only 47%, the number of workers feeling a strong loyalty to their employers hit a three year low.
- Down eight points from 2008, only 33% of workers felt a strong loyalty from their employers.
Despite the change in how employees view loyalty and job satisfaction, the 51% percent of employers that believe their employees have a very strong sense of loyalty to them hasn’t wavered. Considering that a large percentage of workers are now seriously contemplating a job change in the near future, loyalty and retention should be priorities for employers. It was only a few years ago that employers were actually highly focused on retention as they were prepping for the massive amount of Baby Boomers nearing retirement. However, due to low voluntary turnover rates during the recent recession, many employers have put retention efforts on the back burner.
Rebuild Loyalty. The MetLife study found that 71% of employees satisfied with their benefits also reported that they felt very loyal to their employer. Employers can focus on benefits to rebuild loyalty and boost employee engagement and satisfaction. Benefits have long been an important element to attract and retain new and existing employees of all ages. Most employers usually understand how important health benefits and salaries are to creating employee loyalty, but many overlook other benefits like retirement benefits and Life, Dental, and Disability insurance as loyalty drivers. In fact, the MetLife study showed that only 37% of employers recognized these non-medical benefits as loyalty drivers.
Focus On Benefits. As with most things in life, employees of different age groups will have very different perspectives on their benefits package. One-size-fits-all packages simply aren’t sufficient for the modern diverse workforce. Employers should think about flexibility, choice, and customization to best engage their entire workforce. Some of the study’s generational findings may be helpful for the design or redesign of benefits:
- Workers between the ages of 21 and 29, or Generation Y, are the most anxious to leave their current job.
- Workers between the ages of 30 and 45, or Generation X, are the least satisfied with the benefits offered by their employer.
- Workers between the ages of 45 and 54, or younger Baby Boomers, are most frustrated with their retirement prospects and could threaten workplace productivity.
- Workers between the ages of 55 and 65, or older Baby Boomers, are financially unprepared for retirement.
Employers also need to be careful that they aren’t dismissing or overlooking the value in voluntary benefits. The MetLife study showed that it’s extremely important to workers, especially Generation X and Y workers, that they have a choice of benefits that meets their specific needs.
One last point to consider is communication. After all, employees are much more likely to value and appreciate their benefits when they realize just how much you’ve invested to provide them.