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Press Release

Health and retirement benefits jump as key reasons employees join or stay with employer

WTW survey of US employees reveals uptick in willingness to pay extra for better health and retirement benefits

April 19, 2022

Health and Benefits|Retirement

ARLINGTON, VA, April 19, 2022 — With the tight labor market showing little sign of abating, the importance of health and retirement benefits to attract and keep workers has soared to its highest level in a decade. Additionally, the number of employees willing to pay for more generous benefits has rebounded following a dip during the pandemic. These are among the key findings in a survey of more than 9,600 U.S. employees by WTW (Willis Towers Watson, NASDAQ: WTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company.

According to the survey, six in 10 employees (60%) cited their employers’ retirement benefits as an important reason they remain with their current employer, compared with 41% in 2010. Nearly half said their company’s retirement programs (47%) and healthcare benefits (48%) were important reasons why they joined their employers, versus just 25% and 32% in 2010, respectively.

The survey also found more employees are willing to have additional money deducted from their paychecks for better benefits. Nearly six in 10 employees (59%) said they would pay more for a larger, more generous retirement benefit, up from 54% in 2020. Nearly half of employees (46%) would forgo more pay for a more generous healthcare plan versus 36% in 2020. The number of workers willing to pay more for both benefits had dropped from 2019 to 2020.

“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,” said Monica Martin, senior director, Retirement, WTW. “In this tight labor market, organizations that understand the importance that employees place on these core benefits and that provide highly valued benefit programs can differentiate themselves in their effort to become an employer of choice.”

In an analysis of the employee benefit priorities, the survey found the most important benefit that employees want their employers to focus on is retirement (44%) followed by flexible work (39%). Among those who want their employers to focus on retirement, nearly two-thirds (62%) are seeking a guaranteed retirement benefit, over half (58%) are looking for more generous retirement benefits, and 53% are interested in retiree medical benefits.

Within the group of employees who rated flexible work as an important benefit for employers to focus on, half (50%) want more generous paid time off and sick leave, 47% desire work from anywhere/remote work options, and 45% prefer the option to determine when they work.

Managing employee health also emerged as an important issue among a third of respondents (33%). Of those, half (46%) want a more generous healthcare plan, 42% said health screenings and risk assessments would help them manage their health, and 37% prefer a more generous dental plan.

Another benefit option that employees are requesting is help managing their emotional health, with a quarter (27%) ranking this a top priority. Of those employees, more than half (53%) desired mental health days to manage their emotional health, two-fifths (40%) want stress and resilience management support programs, and 39% favor more generous coverage of mental health services and medication.

“Employees are increasingly turning to their employer for more help and support with their benefits. In turn, employers that want to remain competitive are best served by regularly reevaluating their health and retirement benefit packages both in terms of value and flexibility in order to meet the evolving needs of their diverse workforces,” said Julie Stone, managing director, Health and Benefits, WTW.

About the survey

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

About WTW

At WTW (NASDAQ: WTW), we provide data-driven, insight-led solutions in the areas of people, risk and capital. Leveraging the global view and local expertise of our colleagues serving 140 countries and markets, we help organizations sharpen their strategy, enhance organizational resilience, motivate their workforce and maximize performance.

Working shoulder to shoulder with our clients, we uncover opportunities for sustainable success—and provide perspective that moves you.

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