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Data From EBRI Survey Reveals Trends in Employee Benefits


Employee benefits are an important part of a worker’s total compensation, and can ultimately lead to a few significant outcomes for a business.

Job seekers use employee benefits and perks to decide whether to accept or decline an offer, while current employees can use their benefits as a reason for exploring new opportunities with another organization.

As employee benefits have grown more important for organizations and their workforce, extensive research has gone into this area.

Just a few weeks ago, one report showed that voluntary benefits, which were once seen as a “nice-to-have” perk by employers, are now seen as much more important.

Now, a new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), conducted with Greenwald & Associates, explored benefits at a much broader scale.


The 2017 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey was conducted between June 13 and June 22, 2017, and was taken by 1,518 U.S. workers between the ages of 21 and 64.

The data uncovered from the survey was weighted by gender, age, and education to more accurately portray the results in proportion to the total employed population.

Additionally, the data from this year’s survey was compared in the report to the results from the 2015 and 2013 surveys to show trends over time.

The first thing the survey looked to find out was which types of benefits are currently being offered to employees.

The report contains data around 10 specific examples, and how they compare over time. Here are a few of the answers:

  • Health Insurance: 67% in 2017 (68% in 2015; 63% in 2013)
  • Dental Insurance: 59% in 2017 (56% in 2015; 54% in 2013)
  • Retirement Savings Plan: 57% in 2017 (57% in 2015; 53% in 2013)
  • Life Insurance: 50% in 2017 (46% in 2015; 47% in 2013)
  • Vision Insurance: 49% in 2017 (47% in 2015; 44% In 2013)
  • Health Savings Account: 22% in 2017 (20% in 2015)

In addition to some of the more common and traditional employee benefits, the survey also explored paid leave benefits, which have become much more sought after in recent years (especially now with legislation around these benefits becoming more prevalent).

Specifically, the report uncovered data around these four types of paid leave:

  • Paid Vacation Time: 84% of employees said their employer offered
  • Paid Sick Leave: 71% of employees said their employer offered
  • Paid Maternity Leave: 45% of employees said their employer offered (35% said it isn’t offered)
  • Paid Paternity Leave: 26% of employees said their employer offered (46% said it isn’t offered)

The survey also touched on student loan assistance, which is another popular trend for employee benefits. 13% of employees responded that their employer offers this type of benefit.


The next part of the survey looked into how well employees actually understand the benefits they are offered and use.

When it comes to health benefits specifically, the results are mixed. Only 52% of employees said they understood their health benefits extremely well or very well. This is down from 61% in 2015.

The number is even lower for non-health benefits, with just 43% of employees understanding their benefits extremely well or well. This, too, is down from 2015, when 48% responded accordingly.

With these important numbers in decline, the report looked to figure out what could be the cause. To do so, the survey asked in what ways do employers or benefits companies offer education or advice on benefit options.

31% of employees said that their employer or benefits company do not offer any advice or education on their available benefits.

Some respondents did say that their employer or benefits providers do offer advice. However, these responses are lacking, which can help to explain the decline in employee knowledge of benefits.

39% of employees said that they received advice and education on how health insurance works, 28% said they learned how to invest money in a retirement plan, 24% said they learned how health savings accounts (HSAs) worked, and 13% said they were taught about how much to contribute into an HSA.

Additionally, just 58% of employees said they felt extremely or very confident in making benefits decision in 2017. This number was down from 64% in 2015, and 73% In 2013.


The last part of the survey looked at the role benefits play in employee job satisfaction and morale. 48% of employees responded that they are extremely or very satisfied with their current benefits. And 36% said they are somewhat satisfied.

It was uncovered that employees who responded as extremely or very satisfied with their benefits were also extremely or very satisfied with their job (82%). The same correlation exists for employee morale (63%).

Another interesting finding shows that 44% of employees said they would rather receive an increase in work-life balance benefits that a wage increase.

Lastly, the survey goes into detail about the important role benefits play in employee retention.

Overwhelmingly, health insurance was rated as the top benefit that employees factor into a potential job change, with 83% of respondents saying it was extremely or very important.

Retirement savings plans were a close second, with 73% saying it is extremely or very important in deciding whether to stay at a current job, or look for new opportunities.


The survey, like others in recent years, shows the continued trend in the importance of employee benefits for both employees and employers.

Benefits play a critical role in recruiting and retention, which ultimately influence company growth and success.

Organizations both big and small who struggle with recruiting and retention should review their benefit offerings and explore ways to improve them if possible. Doing so could be a win-win for both employers and their employees.

What’s the difference between co-employment and employee leasing? Check out our eBook, Co-Employment vs. Employee Leasing: The Differences Brokers (and Clients) Should Know, to learn more about how different they really are!

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