Nearly four years after the financial crisis began, fewer employers and employees are reporting severe negative economic effects. However, both groups exhibit declining optimism about how they will be doing financially a year from now.
That’s according to Prudential Insurance Company of America’s new study, “Sharpening the Focus on Benefits Strategy.”
Fourteen percent of both employers and employees cited severe negative economic effects, down significantly from 2010 results of 27% for employers and 22% for employees.
Conversely, employers who said their financial position will be better or improving in one year dropped from 70% in 2010 to 54% this year; employees reported a drop from 44% to 38%.
On the credit union front, 79% of employees said they see their employers as a trustworthy source to help them grow and protect their money, second only to credit unions (81%), according to the study.
Employers reported a 17% increase over 2010 results in making benefits strategies a main focus. With shifting ownership and cost of benefits to employees, employers’ top strategies are, in priority order expanding wellness, preventive and work/life balance initiatives, improving the effectiveness of benefits communications, cost-sharing with employees, giving more financial responsibility to employees and increasing employee benefits education and financial advice.
The perceived value of employee benefits has also been trending upward, from 43% in 2010 to 59% today. Fifty-one percent of employees believe they are being offered a wide array of benefits, up from 38% two years ago.
Employees also said they are reading their benefit enrollment material in large numbers – 82% this year, up seven points from last year. Most agree they prefer benefits communications they can read on their own time, the research showed.
Prudential said the research was conducted via the Internet during July 2012, and consisted of three distinct surveys of plan sponsors, plan participants, and broker/consultant audiences.