08/08/2011 Whether an employee is old, young, male, or female, they most likely already understand the value and importance of benefits like dental insurance, health insurance, and 401(k)s. That said, the consulting and research firm LIMRA surveyed 1,500 U.S. employees and found that 40% of them didn’t know the cost of their health insurance. Furthermore, of the 60% that felt they did know the cost of their health insurance, only 15% could actually state a reasonable cost estimate. The results of the survey, which were published in LIMRA’s What Is $1 Billion an Hour Worth? Employee Perspectives on Benefits research report, were weighted to be representative of the U.S. labor force, including employer size, private/public company, male/female, and full/part-time employment. Here are some of the key findings: * While employers frequently have the common misconception that younger employers don’t value benefits as much as their older employers, the survey suggests that younger employees actually value benefits almost as much as their older counterparts. It appears that the different values an employee places on benefits has more to do with life experience than it does life stage, education level, or salary level. * LIMRA’s survey showed that U.S. employees generally significantly underestimate the health insurance premium percentage covered by their employer -and- the premium percentage they pay for non-medical benefits. * Participants were asked what their number one factor would be when considering two similar job offers, each with comparable salaries. Benefits, such as dental, medical, and retirement plans, were the number one factor for 62% of the participants. Other important factors included: an employer’s stability (59%); paid leave (52%); competitive increases in salary (50%); the work environment (42%); an employer’s location (38%); fulfilling, rewarding, and challenging work (37%); an opportunity for personal growth (33%); an employer’s reputation (32%); a fair balance between personal life and work, such as telecommuting and flex time (31%); the growth potential of the employer (27%); monetary bonuses (26%); and an employer’s size (8%). * While it’s clear that most employees value benefits, the research found that the majority didn’t understand the costs and didn’t know how much their benefits were worth. Such can often make it difficult for employees to make informed, knowledgeable decisions as they decide who to work for and what benefits to select. * Considering that around 60% of employers have indicated that they plan to continue shifting the skyrocketing costs of benefits toward their employees, employees must know their benefit package’s price components and any potential lifestyle or financial changes facing them if any of these price components were to change in the future. The survey found that an employee’s decisions about their benefit package as a whole was impacted when they understood how much their benefit was currently costing and any projected cost increases for the future. * According to the survey, most employees say they’re open to paying higher premiums to retain a current benefit plan that they’ve used regularly, such as their dental, vision, or medical coverages. However, a third of the respondents said that they found it difficult to pay for their benefits. Households with less than $25,000 in annual income found it particularly difficult to pay for benefits, but households with twice that amount of income also reported struggling to afford their benefits.