How Benefits Benchmarking Can Help Attract and Retain Talent During the Great Resignation

MARCH 1, 2022

With over 10 million job openings identified and only 6.5 million people looking for work, employers today are struggling to hire and retain talent in the U.S.1

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 4% unemployment rate for January 2022 — way down from 14.8% at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020 (which was the highest rate observed since unemployment data collection began in 1948).2

Experts have coined the status of the current job market as the “Great Resignation.” The initial shutdowns at the start of the pandemic forced some employees out of the workforce, and others were required to work from home. Some employees have left the workforce altogether for retirement or due to lack of dependable childcare. Others want the flexibility to continue to work remotely. And others believe these new conditions have placed them in a position where they can negotiate for better compensation in terms of benefits and salary.3

Unfortunately, the Great Resignation has placed employers in a difficult position. Employee benefits are the largest expenditure after payroll, and play a critical role in maintaining and growing a strong workforce. More than ever before, organizations must balance the need for competitive benefits with the cost of benefits.

To justify changes to their benefits budgets, employers must find data to support the increases. However, it can be difficult for HR to find up-to-date data that benchmarks the benefits against those of peer organizations.

USI Insurance Services’ 2022 Benefits Benchmarking Study helps employers identify the value of their benefits and contributions as compared to the competition, so they can make adjustments to compensation, contribution and benefits design as needed. This data is based on Jan. 1, 2022 renewals, the most current plan data available in the marketplace.

Why Should an Employer Benchmark Its Benefits in 2022?

For employers struggling to understand why they’re unable to attract or retain employees, benchmarking helps identify how they compare to peer organizations on local, state and regional levels. This information empowers employers to make better short-term adjustments to salary or signing bonuses to attract talent in the current highly competitive job market, and will also help employers strategize benefits for 2023 and beyond.

See How Your Benefits Measure Up — Then Set Your Strategy

The annual USI Benefits Benchmarking Study is the largest survey of its kind, and it collects benefits data from employers across the U.S. to offer insights on emerging benefits trends.

Unlike many other benchmarking studies, USI's features data on the current plan year benefits, which provides employers with the latest information.

In 2021, more than 8,000 employers participated in the study by answering a comprehensive survey about the benefits their organizations offered to their employees. As a result of this large data set, the study provided more than 375 “data cuts” offering insights based on employer size, geography (city, state and region), and industry. Every employer that participated received a complimentary Plan Performance Assessment, which provided customized insights as to how their organization’s 2021 benefits compared to benefits offered by their local, regional and national peers.

Last year’s study also helped employers navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by collecting data on remote work policies, workplace vaccination policies, and whether or not employers would waive out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing and treatment. This data was invaluable to employers, as they struggled to make decisions that were in compliance with federal and state regulations and acceptable to their employees.

How to Participate in the 2022 USI Benefits Benchmarking Study

In addition to helping employers measure their benefits against those of peer organizations, the 2022 study is collecting information on employers’ positions on COVID-19 payroll deduction surcharges. Beginning in May, participating employers will receive their complimentary Plan Performance Assessment, detailing how their organization’s benefits compare to those of peer organizations of a similar size, industry, and geography. In addition to benchmarking, the Plan Performance Assessment also offers solutions that may:

  • Improve the health of the organization’s population
  • Reduce benefits spending
  • Enhance benefits communications
  • Increase overall plan competitiveness

*If your organization participated in the 2021 Benefits Benchmarking Study, you should have received an email with a custom link to a survey populated with your 2021 responses, which should save you time, as you will only need to update contributions. Please contact your local USI benefits consultant if you need access to the pre-populated survey.

1 U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics
2 Congressional Research Service
3 Forbes