It’d be nice to think that employees are, in general, long-term planners, always taking into account the big picture in terms of what they and their dependents will need the most further down the road: adequate retirement funds, money put aside for unforeseen medical expenses, perhaps some long-term care insurance. And then there’s reality: When 10,400 workers in 10 key markets around the world were asked in a recent survey to choose from a list of benefits the ones they’d most like to have, the No. 1 choice was a salary increase (The exception were respondents in Canada, where paid time off proved slightly more popular).
Who can blame them? Well, Mercer doesn’t seem too happy with their choices. Mercer conducted the survey, titled Making Smart Benefit Choices. Dave Rahill, president of Mercer’s health and benefits business, had this to say: “Employees valuing more time off and increased pay in the current stress-filled environment may be understandable, but there are other benefits that have the potential to create more income protection through health benefits and income replacement through retirement and savings vehicles.”
To the survey participants’ credit, it’s not as if they’re unaware of their retirement challenges: In general, the percentage who indicated they’re fairly or very concerned about retireemnt ranged between two-thirds and three quarters. Mercer notes those concerns are valid, pointing out that in markets outside of Asia, approximately 75 percent of employees are putting aside less than 10 percent of their total compensation towards retirement savings.
The survey also asked employees to rank the “voluntary” benefits (extra benefits, such as home, auto and life insurance, that are typically paid for by employees but usually include a group discount) they’d be most willing to pay for themselves. The top three benefits U.S. employees were willing to pay for are disability, life and auto insurance. Accident and hospital indemnity insurance was also fairly popular, while legal assistance and identity theft insurance proved the least popular.