Originally posted March 17, 2014 by Andy Stonehouse on https://ebn.benefitnews.com

Despite some sense of grumbling out in the working world about the shape of benefits in the midst of further ACA rollouts, one new study suggests employee satisfaction regarding their benefits is at an all-time high.

MetLife’s 12th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, released Monday, shows what researchers suggest is a tremendous level of overall satisfaction with workplace benefits – with some of the highest numbers in more than a decade.

According to this year’s study, the overall satisfaction level hit 50%, the most solid self-evaluation of benefits in the MetLife research’s history.

And while voluntary benefits strategies also appear to be paying off, the company says that fewer employers report that voluntary benefits are at the forefront of their overall strategy.

“Employees who are very satisfied with their benefits are more than twice as likely to report being very satisfied with their jobs,” notes Todd Katz, executive vice president, Group, Voluntary and Worksite Benefits, with MetLife. “Because of this, offering a wider variety of benefits pays dividends for both employers and employees.”

Katz says the study indicates that benefits are a strong driver for employee loyalty, with 44% of respondents indicating that having benefits customized to meet their needs would be an even stronger pull to keep them happy and motivated on the job.

That ability to personalize their own benefits choices as part of a workplace package is taking on more appeal, the study finds. Some 78% of workers say they would like a greater variety of benefits to choose from and 80% say it would be valuable to have benefits customized to their individual circumstances, or their age.

Most importantly, 60% indicated that they would be willing to bear more of the cost involved in order to have more personal benefits choices.

Even with strong employee support and enthusiasm, Katz says the survey indicates that employers themselves are less supportive of voluntary benefits being a cornerstone of their benefits strategy, with numbers dropping almost 10% since the 2012 survey.

“This shift in employer focus is somewhat unexpected,” Katz says. “But rather than a change in strategy, this is likely a result of employers being consumed by health care reform and other cost control strategies.”

Katz suggests that employers continue to consider the long-term goodwill and retention benefits of offering a solid array of voluntary choices.

“The employee satisfaction numbers make it clear that voluntary benefit strategies are paying off for employers and that attention should not be shifted from existing plans. Changing course now may have negative effects on loyalty and productivity in the future.”