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Employees who understand their benefits are happier and have a greater sense of overall stability at work, according to the latest data from MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends Study.

Nearly 76 percent of workers who understand their benefits are happy, while 82 percent believe their benefits give them a greater sense of overall stability—versus only 47 percent and 52 percent, respectively, who don’t.

The 2,650 full-time employees surveyed indicate “being happy” is the most important aspect of their work experience (73 percent), followed by doing meaningful work and being successful.

As the workforce transitions into the era of “The Big Stay”—with 77 percent of employees now saying they intend to be with their employer in a year—research indicates employees may increasingly become more intentional about their benefits selection at open enrollment as a means of improving their overall job satisfaction.

“Employee benefits play a massive role in employees’ lives both at and outside of work—and a big part of this is not just the benefits themselves, but also the awareness of how they are used,” said Jamie Madden, senior vice president of Workforce Engagement and Benefits Connectivity at MetLife. “Understanding benefits leads to more informed open enrollment decisions, better utilization, and a happier, more stable and generally more satisfied workforce.”

While benefits positively impact employees, the study identified several barriers that frequently hinder comprehension:

  • Education: 62 percent of employees say understanding how to use their benefits would offer a greater sense of overall stability, and 50 percent say having a better understanding of their benefits—what’s offered and what’s covered—would increase their loyalty.
  • Procrastination: Nearly one-third of employees (31 percent) procrastinated when selecting their benefits last year and 37 percent wish they’d had more time to make the right choices. This comes as one in six employees regret their benefits elections from last year.
  • Consultation: Nearly half of employees (44 percent) didn’t consult others before enrolling in benefits last year. This group was also less likely to fully understand their benefits and more likely to worry about unexpected health and financial issues.

When employees take the time to understand and engage in conversations about benefits, it results in increased comprehension, more informed decisions and less anxiety.

Employers using multiple channels and incorporating personalization into benefit communications strategies can help their workforce make more confident open enrollment decisions, MetLife noted.

“With two-thirds of today’s workforce saying open enrollment is more important this year given the current economic situation, it’s critical that employers take steps to empower their employees to make more confident open enrollment decisions and ultimately, have a happier experience at work,” said Madden.