Survey of LGBTQ Workers Finds Lower Satisfaction With Work Benefits

LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ workers have broadly similar interests in terms of benefits, but there may be an access gap, EBRI research finds.

LGBTQ workers were less satisfied with their employee benefits and their job overall than their non-LGBTQ counterparts, according to research done as part of the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2022 Workplace Wellness Survey.

The survey included an oversample of LGBTQ workers. The total sample, collected between July 13 and 21, 2022, included 1,518 workers, 605 of which were LGBTQ. The sample was weighted for age, gender, race, income and LGBTQ status, and it was collected using 20-minute online interviews.

The survey indicated that people in the LGBTQ sample were less likely to be offered a range of employee benefits and were especially unsatisfied with benefits related to mental health and work-life balance.

Sixty one percent of non-LGBTQ workers reported being extremely or very satisfied with their job, as opposed to 44% of LGBTQ workers. The study noted that some of the gap may be explained by other demographic categories. LGBTQ workers tend to be younger, for example, which partially accounts for their lower income and lower prioritization of retirement savings. But even when this is accounted for, LGBTQ status still is associated with lower access to and satisfaction with workplace benefits.

The survey found that non-LGBTQ workers were more satisfied with their jobs across all applied income groups:  people earning less than $35,000 annually; those earning from $35,000 to $74,499; and those earning greater than $75,000.

Differences Could Be Explained by Income Intervals

Non-LGBTQ workers reported being more satisfied with their overall benefits and with their paid leave by 11 and 8 percentage points, respectively. They also reported being more satisfied with their retirement benefits by 8 points, but this varied by income interval. LGBTQ workers in the lowest income group were more satisfied with retirement benefits, with 41% agreeing that they were extremely or very satisfied, compared to 32% of non-LGBTQ workers.

However, in the middle and upper income groups, LGBTQ workers reported lower rates of satisfaction with their retirement benefits. In the middle group, non-LGBTQ workers had higher rates of very/extremely satisfied by a margin of 5 percentage points, and in the highest interval by 10 percentage points. For the total sample, 51% of non-LGBTQ workers were satisfied with their retirement benefits, compared with 43% of LGBTQ workers.

There are other gaps in satisfaction between the two categories in the highest compensated cohort. For example, 40% of non-LGBTQ workers and 33% of LGBTQ workers reported being satisfied with their work-life balance. However, LBGTQ workers were 5 percentage points more likely to be satisfied in the lowest income group, and nearly even in the middle. However, in the highest-paid group, 49% of non-LGBTQ and 40% of LGBTQ workers reported being satisfied with work-life balance.

This pattern appeared again when respondents were asked if their employer offers a financial wellness program. 46% of non-LGBTQ and 36% of LGBTQ workers answered in the affirmative. However, non-LGBTQ workers were 2 and 4 percentage points to this question in the bottom and middle intervals, respectively. That gap grew to 11 percentage points, 54% for LGBTQ workers and 43% for non-LGBTQ workers, in the top group.

Similarities Also Apparent

There were some notable similarities between the two categories of workers. When respondents were asked to name the most valuable improvements to their benefits package, both said “greater financial contributions from your employer” were the most important (44% of LGBTQ workers, and 42% of non-LGBTQ). The only noteworthy gap in response this question was for “More Benefits/Resources to Help With Your Physical Well-Being/Health,” which LGBTQ workers selected 34% of the time, compared to 27% for non-LGBTQ.

Similarly, when respondents were asked about their interests in benefits not offered, their answers were broadly the same. An emergency savings account funded through payroll deduction was the most popular, with 85% of LGBTQ workers and 83% of non-LGBTQ workers identifying it as a desired benefit they lacked.

The largest gap was for pet insurance, with 60% of LGBTQ workers identifying it, compared to 50% of non-LGBTQ. Pet insurance was one of five responses that were statistically significant for this question, out of 25 asked. The other four were earned wage access, debt management services, expanded mental health care benefits and student loan assistance.