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Workers Would Pay More for Better Retirement, Health Benefits

April 19, 2022, 10:00 AM

The number of employees willing to pay for better benefits has rebounded following a dip during the pandemic, according to a Willis Tower Watson survey released Tuesday.

The survey of more than 9,600 U.S. employees found that the tight labor markets are “showing little sign of abating,” which means the importance of health and retirement benefits to attract and keep workers is at its highest level in a decade. Willis Towers Watson is an advisory and brokerage firm.

“While employees still look at pay as the most compelling reason to stay or leave a company, health and retirement benefits have become a much more significant factor in their decision-making process,” Monica Martin, the firm’s senior director/retirement, said in a news release.

The survey found the most important benefit to employees is retirement (44%) followed by flexible work (39%). Among those who said retirement benefits are most important to them, 62% want a guaranteed retirement benefit, 58% want more generous retirement benefits, and 53% are interested in retiree medical benefits.

Nearly six in 10 employees (59%) said they would pay more for a more larger retirement benefit, and 46% would pay for a more generous health-care plan, up from 2020.

Employee health was an important issue among 33% of respondents. Of those, 46% want a more generous health-care plan, 42% said health screenings and risk assessments would help them manage their health, and 37% would like a more generous dental plan.

Among employees who rated flexible work as among the most important benefits, 50% want more generous paid time off and sick leave, 47% want remote work options, and 45% want to determine when they work.

Employees also want help managing their emotional health, with 27% ranking it as a top priority. Of those employees, 53% want mental health days, 40% want stress and resilience management support programs, and 39% want more generous coverage of mental health services and medication.

The 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey was conducted in December 2021 and January 2022. Respondents included 9,658 U.S. employees from large and midsize private employers, representing a broad range of industries, Willis Towers Watson said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Hansard in Washington at shansard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brent Bierman at bbierman@bloomberglaw.com; Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloombergindustry.com