Benefit Satisfaction Higher in ‘Best Practices’ Companies

Take pity on the Gen-X hourly worker.

This group is part of the generation that works to live, but guess what? They also are more likely to think your company-sponsored benefits stink.

That’s the conclusion of a new study investigating a broad segment of U.S. workers’ opinions about their satisfaction with employer-offered benefit packages.

This new data from Kenexa Research Institute, a division of Kenexa, points out the obvious but still disappointing news that salaried employees are more satisfied than hourly employees.

And the Kenexa data shows that Gen X workers are extremely less satisfied than older employees.

Making matters worse, new research from Fidelity Research Institute suggests that Gen X-led households will face a 46% pay cut when they hit retirement, compared to the 38% drop baby boomers are likely to face.

If this trend trickles down to the younger Gen Y, recruiters are looking at the possibility of up to 22% of the new workforce seriously resenting their companies’ benefits.

The Gen Y worker, born after 1978, is a member of the fastest-growing segment of today’s workforce. It is expected to add more than 10 million workers to the labor market over the next five years.

A recent Monster webinar, entitled “What Gen Y Wants at Work” compared the results of a survey of 9,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

The job characteristics that were rated most important included “Interesting and engaging work” at 88%, followed very closely by “Good benefits – including health insurance” at 84%.

The survey also asked recruiters what they believed this generation valued the most. While Gen Y’s top-five included interesting work; good benefits; job security; chance for promotion; and opportunity to learn new skills, recruiters’ answers show a clear gap between Gen Y wants and corporate reality.

Overall, recruiters’ top-five included interesting work; chance for promotion; opportunity to learn new skills; high income; and good benefits.

(Also, note that recruiters listed income as number 4, whereas Gen Y listed income as number 8!)

Benefit Satisfaction Tied to Industry, Job Function

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Back at Kenexa, the company’s benefits satisfaction survey also points out that employees in larger companies are more satisfied than those in smaller companies.

“It is interesting to note that employees who work in ‘best practices’ companies are noticeably more favorable in their satisfaction with their benefits and their responses tended to be more stable and congruent,” said Jack Wiley, Kenexa Research Institute’s Executive Director.

Getting industry-specific, the fields that report a decline in employee benefit satisfaction include heavy manufacturing, wholesale/retail trade, healthcare products and pharmaceuticals, communications service/utilities, banking, and to a lesser degree, education.

Industries demonstrating a rise in employee benefit satisfaction include healthcare services and financial services.

Overall, employee satisfaction with benefits in the light manufacturing, construction/engineering, food industry, wholesale/retail, government/public administration, transportation services, and business services industries showed only slight or no change at all over the past few years.

Workers in the electronics and computer manufacturing industries are the most likely to express dissatisfaction, which Kenexa relates to the unpredictability of the marketplace and the resulting “trickle-down” effect on compensation and benefits.

The actual job functions that reported the biggest decline in benefits satisfaction included first-line supervisors, clerical, service, crafts/skilled trades, operatives, and laborers.

On the flip side, the happiest with their benefits included managers and executives.

Finally, those in technical, sales, or professional positions generally exhibited slight or no change in benefits satisfaction.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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