Employees Want Information About People Like Them

Employees are interested in receiving information geared toward their life stage on what kinds of benefits to select during their company’s open enrollment period, according to MetLife’s 2007 Open Enrollment Trends Survey.

Six out of 10 (59%) employees indicated they would like their employer to suggest benefits that would be appropriate for someone in their life stage, MetLife said, in a press release about the survey findings. More than one in five (22%) said guidelines or instructions for “people-like-me” would improve their open enrollment experience.

The survey found individuals turn to co-workers or peers with similar life-stage concerns for advice on benefits enrollment. Other than their spouse, employees chose someone in their life stage (22%) as the most important source of advice – ahead of HR (14%) or a professional adviser (11%).

Older and younger singles in particular expressed a need for life-stage advice, with over 20% expressing interest in having access to an adviser to help them make better benefits decisions during the open enrollment period, the press release said. Of the workers who would like their employers to suggest benefits based on their life stage, more than eight in ten (84%) said they would be willing to share personal information (i.e., age, marital status, number of children, income) with their company’s benefits manager to allow the company’s insurer or benefits provider to offer customized guidance.

Younger singles (42%) were least likely to say their benefits currently meet their life-stage needs. Of the younger singles who turn to their HR department for advice, over three-fourths (78%) said they would like their employer to suggest life-stage guidelines for their benefit selection. Additionally, 22% said they turn to their parents for advice, compared to only 6% of employees overall.

Older singles (17%) indicated they felt the most “frustrated” about the decisionmaking process during open enrollment, while 14% of workers in a double income, no kids household felt “’disappointed’ during the process. Four in ten younger boomers (41%) said their primary emotion was a feeling of “comfort,’ while almost one-fifth (17%) expressed “disappointment,’ and another 9% said they were “frustrated.’ Younger boomers were most likely (73%) to hold their employer accountable for their negative feelings during open enrollment.

Meanwhile, new families seemed most satisfied with the open enrollment process. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of new families reported the open enrollment experience as positive and 56% said they thoroughly read the benefits package. Also, 85% said they felt confident in their overall benefits decisions, 53% indicated they felt “comfortable’ in the process, and 40% said they seek open enrollment advice from their spouse.

The survey findings suggest emotions employees experience during the open enrollment process are likely to have an impact on workplace satisfaction. More than one-half (58%) of people who said they feel negative or not confident about their decisions hold their employers accountable for this feeling. A common response was, “Health insurance costs keep going up and the coverage available isn’t as good as it was in the past.’

Among employees who felt happy during the open enrollment experience, 38% credit their employer with their positive feelings and 82% of employees credit themselves.

Visit www.whymetlife.com/enrollmentpr to download a copy of MetLife’s rules of thumb for benefits enrollment by life stage, as well as a white paper on MetLife’s open enrollment research.