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Employee Benefits Surveys: Questions, Best Practices, and More

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Employees might like working for you, but they don’t do it out of the kindness of their hearts. They need a salary. They need security. And perhaps most importantly, they need benefits like retirement and health insurance to feel confident that they’re building a long-lasting financial future for themselves and their families.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, retirement benefits were available to 94% of all private-sector workers in the United States. This means benefits are more than just a perk: they’re often expected. To retain talent and ensure that your employees feel comfortable sticking around in their current position, they need benefits from you. Otherwise, they might look elsewhere for employment. And when they do, you’ll be stuck with the bill of investing in new headhunting, onboarding, and employee training.

There’s only one question. How do you know whether your employee benefits are enough? To gauge the impact of the perks you offer, you can run an employee benefits survey

HR employees reviewing benefits options

What is an employee benefits survey?

An employee benefits survey is a questionnaire you use to gauge how employees feel about the perks of working at your company. Typically, these assessments will assess a few things:

  • Satisfaction. It’s one thing to offer benefits; it’s another thing to make sure your employees like them. Employee satisfaction with their current benefits levels will go a long way in determining how incentivizing they are.
  • Understanding. What if you have great benefits at your company…but not a single employee seems to understand them? Then you have a communication problem. An employee benefits survey will help you determine how good you’ve been at demonstrating the robustness of your benefits.
  • Desire. Let’s say you have a few gaps in your benefits. Should you expand PTO (paid time off) or retirement matching? You don’t know until you assess what your employees want most. Ask them about their benefits priorities so you can match your incentives to the tangible benefits your workplace provides.
  • Utilization. Even if you have all three of the above working well, you may not get the most out of your benefits package until you can demonstrate that employees use them. 

It might sound complicated, but an employee benefits survey can be a quick and straightforward assessment. All you have to know is how to ask the right questions. 

But let’s back up. Why bother asking these questions to begin with? Why isn’t it enough to set a high standard for your benefits and let employees discover these perks on their own?

Why you should run employee benefits surveys at your business

For many businesses, the idea is simple: put your money where your mouth is. If you want employee loyalty, all you have to do is invest in a robust benefits package. Employees will feel incentivized to work hard for you, to stick with you, and ultimately to remain with your company.

But there’s another part of this plan that many employers overlook. The employee’s side. If an employee knows a benefit exists but cannot utilize it for some reason, it doesn’t feel like a benefit. 

If you’re going to build employee benefits packages that motivate your employees, you need to know if employees are getting the message. Are your benefits motivating them? Or have you missed the mark? And if you do have good benefits, do employees understand that? Here are some advantages to running employee benefits surveys.

Advantage #1: Employee retention

Employee retention is important for a whole list of reasons. First and foremost, it impacts the bottom line: the longer employees stay with you, the less you have to invest in onboarding and training new employees just to get the same work done. Considering that 78% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with a company due to the benefits they receive, benefits can weigh more heavily on employees than even aspects like salary or opportunities elsewhere. In that way, you can think of employee benefits as an investment in the loyalty and engagement of your team.

Advantage #2: Clarity

A reported 49% of employees will start looking for a new job in the next 12 months if they’re dissatisfied with benefits—or confused. That last word matters a lot. Confusion can muddy the waters of employee benefits; even if you’re willing to put money into the benefits you provide, employees will only feel the quality of those benefits if they understand them well enough to put them to work.

Clarity ultimately comes down to effort. You have to make sure employees understand the benefits you offer. If your survey uncovers that employees don’t fully grasp how many benefits they have available, it’s time to invest in new communications so employees can make full use of them.

Advantage #3: Matching your investment to employee preferences

Let’s say you’ve been paying $5,000 annually per employee for a robust benefits package. Then you run an assessment and find out that employees prefer a better healthcare plan than the existing package. You thought you were doing right by putting a lot of money aside; as it turns out, you were misplacing the resources.

Organizations only know what matters most to their employees when they ask them. So make that a key part of your assessment. Ask employees what kinds of benefits they’d prefer at your company. Ask them if there are any gaps in your benefits. Or ask them how the money that goes towards their benefits could be better spent. If they say they’re happy with the benefits, great; it means you have other fish to fry if you need to improve employee satisfaction. But if they give you definitive answers about how to spend your money, you can put your resources to better use.

Example survey questions on benefits and compensation

Here are some example questions you might include in your survey, with a rating scale of Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree:

  • I am satisfied with my current benefits package offered by the company.
  • The benefits offered meet my needs well.
  • I am satisfied with my current level of compensation.
  • My compensation compares favorably to industry standards.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s approach to bonuses and incentives.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s approach to raises and promotions.
  • The company’s benefits package meets the needs of employees with families well.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s approach to flexible work arrangements.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s approach to health and wellness benefits.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s approach to retirement benefits.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s approach to paid time off and vacation policies.
  • The company’s benefits package meets the needs of employees with disabilities well.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s approach to work-life balance.

Example topics to cover in your benefits/compensation survey

Some topics you may look to cover in your survey could include:

  • Health insurance options
  • HSA / FSA options
  • Stock options 
  • 401k matching programs
  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Wellness programs
  • Mental health days
  • Parental leave (maternity and paternity)
  • Bereavement leave
  • In-office food and snack options
  • Gym membership reimbursement
  • Hybrid/remote work options
  • Financial support counseling

And more!

Best practices for employee benefits surveys

Employee surveys only produce strong data when the questionnaires themselves are strong. It’s not enough to send out a survey. You have to be thoughtful about the kinds of survey results you need to act on the information you receive. Let’s explore some best practices for your surveys:

  • Explain yourself. You need something of a “mission statement” for the survey. Tell your employees what kind of feedback you’re after. Inform them about the potential changes you might make. If they understand that their answers can shape the benefits packages they receive, they’ll be more likely to feel engaged. And they’re also more likely to give you honest responses.
  • Keep it a secret. Don’t make the survey secret, but make sure everyone understands that their answers are anonymous. That way you can be sure your employees are giving you accurate, brutally honest information. If you have a platform that doesn’t allow you to view who answered what, let them know about it. Employees need the freedom to express themselves fully without any risk. And when they know their answers are anonymous, they’re going to be much more helpful to you.
  • Create a survey calendar. One employee benefits survey will give you a snapshot of where people stand. That’s valuable by itself. But you should also track the evolution of your benefits packages over time. Create a survey calendar—once a quarter, every other quarter, etc.—so you can track how different the answers get. Use multiple choice ratings (“on a scale of 1 to 10…”) to see if there are tangible improvements in how employees perceive your benefits package.
  • Share details about the surveys on the backend. Employees can sometimes feel demoralized when they feel their answers are disappearing into thin air. So follow up on the surveys. Thank employees for their participation. Let them know when you’re reviewing the answers, and what results you got. This will help employees make the direct connection between their answers and the decisions they make for the company. They’ll feel a sense of ownership in the process, which makes them eager to track the changes you make.

Over time, high-quality surveys will help you identify key problem areas and track your improvements. Stick to those details above and you’ll have more than surveys: you’ll have accurate, tangible answers that can help guide your company.

Turn your employee benefits survey into an opportunity

It can sometimes be scary to ask employees how they feel about your company. You might be worried that they’ll say something negative. But that can also be a good thing. If they point out a negative about your benefits package, it allows you to identify the problem and solve it. When you do, you create a better environment for employees old and new. You make your company a better place to work. 
Do that, and you’ll have more employee motivation, higher retention rates, and higher overall job satisfaction. And while the benefits survey can feel like a small step in this regard, you’d be amazed at the impact it can make when you ask employees what they want.

With employee benefits surveys, you can become a company that invests in the complete well-being of its employees. That’s a company willing to reinvest in its success—which can pay dividends for years. Request a demo or sign up for a free trial and start running employee benefits surveys today!

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