5 common workplace benefits — and 3 that are dying out

For 20 years now, the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute has surveyed employees about their benefits — delving into their understanding, satisfaction and confidence levels regarding their benefits.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the survey, though — at least to workers — is simply how many companies offer various benefits are these days. You can use such information as a barometer against which to evaluate the benefits your current or future employers offer.

For EBRI’s latest annual Health and Workplace Benefits Survey, around 1,500 American workers, against 21 to 64, were polled.

The prevalence of workplace benefits

According to the latest survey, five benefits have become more common in recent years. They are:

  1. Health insurance: 67 percent of employees report that their employers offered this benefit in 2017 (up from 63 percent in 2013)

  2. Dental insurance: 59 percent (up from 54 percent)

  3. Retirement savings plan: 57 percent (up from 53 percent)

  4. Life insurance: 50 percent (up from 47 percent)

  5. Vision insurance: 49 percent (up from 44 percent)

Two other benefits — a health savings account (which 22 percent of employers offered in 2017) and accident insurance (15 percent) — have become more common since 2015. EBRI has not been tracking these benefits as long as others, though, so the organization does not have 2013 data on them.

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Three benefits have become less common in recent years. They are:

  1. Traditional pension: 26 percent of employees report their employers offered this benefit in 2017 (down from 29 percent in 2013)

  2. Long-term disability: 29 percent (down from 32 percent)

  3. Short-term disability: 36 percent (down from 39 percent)

Interestingly, though, traditional pension rates have risen a bit since 2015 — 26 percent of companies offer such plans now compared with 22 percent of companies in 2015.

This year, EBRI also looked at two other benefits, paid leave and student loan assistance. Their prevalence is:

  • Paid vacation time: 84 percent of employees report their employers offered this benefit in 2017

  • Paid sick leave: 71 percent

  • Paid maternity leave: 45 percent

  • Paid paternity leave: 26 percent

  • Student-loan-debt relief/repayment assistance: 13 percent

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Understanding workplace benefits

Many employees have a lackluster understanding of their job benefits, EBRI found.

Only 52 percent of employees say they understand their health benefits “extremely well” or “very well.” The rest say they understand them “somewhat well,” “not too well” or “not at all well.”

The numbers are worse for nonhealth benefits, with only 43 percent of employees saying they understand them “extremely well” or “very well.”

This could stem from the fact that less than half of employees say their employers offer education or advice about benefits, such as how health insurance works or how to invest money in a retirement plan.

Note that these numbers reflect what employees believe to be the case. If you feel your employer has not provided benefits information that you need or want, make sure you have asked for any available information. Failing that, ask the benefits company to provide you with or direct you to information.

What’s your take on the prevalence of job benefits today? Sound off below or over on our Facebook page.