New York - Results from a recent employee benefits benchmarking report and Web-based companion tool issued by New York-based MetLife revealed that for small companies (with between 2 and 49 employees), "retaining employees" is the number one employee benefits objective (57%). Yet retention rates are at risk, as only 29% of employees who work for a small company are satisfied with the benefits offered by their employer - despite the fact that MetLife research indicates a correlation between job satisfaction, employee loyalty and benefits satisfaction. Additionally, only 16% say that their company's benefits communication effectively educates them about their benefits. Their peers at the largest companies (25,000+ employees), however, are much more satisfied with their benefits (48%) and 39% believe that their company's benefits communication is effective.

MeteLife released these and other core findings from its annual Employee Benefits Benchmarking Report and companion Web-based Benefits Benchmarking Tool to provide benefits professionals, brokers and consultants with a way to compare the features of one company's benefits program against those of its peers.

"To some extent, employers need to shoulder responsibility for this disconnect in employees' appreciation of benefits programs, since less than one-third of employees believe their benefits communications effectively educate their workforce," said Randy Stram, vice president, Institutional Business, MetLife. "Many companies are falling short in their benefits program goals to increase participation and satisfaction. All too often, benefits communication is pushed to the backburner, yet it is often the backbone of a successful program."

"Benchmarking information can help employers identify the right communication channels and the best strategies for improving benefits satisfaction and the perceived value of their benefit offerings," added Stram. "The competition for talent is expected to intensify and, with benefits high on employees' priority lists, employers should re-examine areas for improvement and consider using new strategies such as targeting benefits information to employees at different life stages. Helping employees understand the value and cost of their benefits will go a long way in meeting cost and retention objectives."

The MetLife Benefits Benchmarking Report and Benefits Benchmarking Tool were developed based on findings from the company's 2005 Employee Benefits Trend Study and cover benefits-related topics from the perspectives of both employees and employers. Data is presented by size - from the smallest firms (2-49 employees) to the largest (25,000+ employees), industry - construction, manufacturing, retail trade, finance/insurance, services, transportation and public administration, and geography - Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

Among the topics addressed are employees' preferred benefits channels and their attitudes toward benefits and benefits communication, as well as employers' top benefits objectives and strategies. Benefits offerings, such as work/life, executive and retirement benefits, are also featured. The tool may be particularly valuable to intermediaries who are seeking to advise their clients on ways to create a more competitive benefits program. The free report and tool are available at

Among the other key findings from the MetLife Benefits Benchmarking report:

-- Many employees in the retail trade sector (43%) believe their employer is providing them with effective benefits communication, yet only 17% of employees in the manufacturing sector think their employer's communication program is effective.

-- The largest companies are most supportive when it comes to having a variety of work/life benefits, such as telecommuting - offered by 54% of companies with over 25,000 employees, compared with only 35% of companies with 2-49 employees.

-- The largest employers (25,000+) are also the most likely to offer an employee benefits web site (88%); compared to only 27% of employers with 2-49 employees. Likewise, employers based in the South (58%) are more apt to offer an employee benefits Web site than employers in other areas of the country (West 53%, Northeast 51%, Midwest 47%).

The MetLife Employee Benefits Trends Study was conducted during the third quarter of 2005 and consisted of two distinct surveys fielded by UK-based GfK NOP. 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.

Source: Business Wire

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