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Feeling “cared for” at work is a key driver of employee holistic health and happiness, which are strongly connected to productivity, loyalty and job satisfaction, according to MetLife’s 21st annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS). Yet nearly half of employees (42 percent) don’t feel cared for by their employers.

The report notes that “care” refers to employers’ genuine demonstration of interest in employees’ overall well-being—both at work and outside of work. It builds from a foundation of fair compensation and a safe work environment to incorporate employees’ sense that the organization recognizes their contributions and acknowledges their unique needs as individuals.

The study found that employees who don’t feel cared for are 65 percent less likely to feel a sense of belonging at work and 72 percent less likely to feel valued by their employers. This, in turn, has a measurable impact on organizational performance: among employees who don’t feel cared for at work, only 45 percent are engaged, 58 percent are productive and 54 percent are loyal (versus 87 percent, 90 percent and 89 percent, respectively).

Meanwhile, employees who feel cared for are 92 percent more likely to feel engaged at work, 65 percent more likely to be loyal and 56 percent more likely to be productive.

The study also revealed a 69 percent job satisfaction rate in 2023—tied with 2020 as the second-lowest rate since 2013. This is up slightly from 66 percent in 2022, which was the lowest in the 20-year history of the MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study. Employee loyalty shows a similar downward trend across several years; this year’s increase to 74 percent contrasts with the drop from the peak of 80 percent in 2018 to the low of 70 percent in 2022.

Care should be demonstrated across each aspect of the employee experience: culture, purposeful work, flexibility, benefits, career development and compensation. The study found that different groups prioritize certain aspects over others. For example, women are more concerned with safety and comfort in the work environment and more support from managers; Gen Z wants their employer to take action on environmental, social and political issues.

“Our research shows care is not only a differentiated driver of the employee experience but also a proven workplace metric to measure employer outcomes,” said Todd Katz, executive vice president, Group Benefits at MetLife, in a statement. “As the economy and labor market remain volatile and workplace trends fluctuate, employers can’t afford to overlook employee care. When organizations genuinely demonstrate employee care, they are much more likely to weather macro challenges effectively and rise to the top for current employees and job seekers alike.”

Research Methodology

MetLife’s 21st Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study was conducted in November 2022 and consists of two distinct studies fielded by Rainmakers CSI – a global strategy, insight and planning consultancy. The employer survey includes 2,840 interviews with benefits decision-makers and influencers at companies with at least two employees. The employee survey consists of 2,884 interviews with full-time employees, ages 21 and over, at companies with at least two employees.