New York - Nearly four in ten (37%) California employers see workforce diversity--and the wide range of benefits needs associated with it--as a top human resource priority, compared with 29% of employers nationwide. This is according to MetLife's 2005 Employee Benefits Trends Study. One way the state's employers are working to meet this challenge is by providing work/life benefits--an approach adopted by 58% of California employers, compared with 52% of their peers nationwide."More than employers in other states, California employers strive to truly understand their employees' diverse needs in order to create the most appropriate benefits packages," said Randy Stram, vice president, Institutional Business, MetLife. "While many companies nationwide still continue to offer a one-size-fits-all benefits package, California employers are taking extra steps to maximize benefits satisfaction and return-on-investment."

Customized options may be a major reason why California employees say they are satisfied with the benefits provided through their employers (43%) to a greater degree than their counterparts across the U.S. (39%). In addition, Californians are more likely to say that the benefits offered by their employers are an important reason why they went to work for their employer (36%), compared to employees in the rest of the country (31%).

Gender, life stage, age and ethnicity all play a role in creating a unique set of wants and "must-haves" for each worker. Online benefit tools allow companies' diverse employee populations to get all their benefits needs met in one all-inclusive portal. This is proving effective: more than one-third (40%) of the state's employees agree that the Internet or their company's intranet is their communications channel of choice.

More companies in California (32%) believe it is extremely/very important to offer benefits communications, enrollment and services in a language other than English versus employers nationwide (26%). They are also more likely to offer more ancillary voluntary benefits compared to the rest of the nation. These ancillary benefits include options such as stocks and bonds, pet insurance, auto insurance and homeowner's insurance just to name a few.

Among the other California-specific key findings from MetLife's study:

  • California employers provide their employees with Internet/Intranet access at a higher rate (83%) than employers across the nation (74%). They also use benefits web sites at a slightly higher frequency (52%, compared with 50% nationwide).
  • Of the employers who do not currently offer online benefits enrollment, 62% of those in California plan to add this option over the next 18 months compared to 37% of employers nationwide.

The MetLife Employee Benefits Trends Study was conducted during the third quarter of 2005 and consisted of two distinct surveys. The employee survey polled 1,213 full-time employees, age 21 and older, at companies with at least two employees. The employer survey consisted of 1,514 interviews with benefits decision-makers at companies with at least two employees.
For a copy of the study, visit

Source: MetLife, a subsidiary of MetLife Inc.

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