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Prudential survey: Employers, employees less optimistic about financial future

180px-National_Bank_OamaruA recent survey by Prudential revealed that though employers and employees are reporting fewer negative economic effects resulting from the crisis, both groups are increasingly less optimistic about their future financial situations.

Fourteen percent of both employers and employees cited severe negative economic effects, a significant drop from 27 percent for employers and 22 percent for employees in a 2010 survey. The percentage of employers who indicated their financial position will be improved or better in one year fell from 70 percent in 2010 to 54 percent, while the number of employees who expected their economic position to be improved or better over the next year fell from 44 percent in 2010 to 38 percent.

Employers indicated that their top strategies in the coming year were expanding wellness and preventative initiatives, improving the effectiveness of benefits communications, cost-sharing with employees, allowing employees more financial responsibility and increasing employee benefits education and financial advice.

“We are seeing two positive trends pointing to the successful evolution of employee benefit strategies,” Prudential Group Insurance President Steve Pelletier said. “Employers are well-positioned to shift ownership of benefits to employees. At the same time, employees are taking on more responsibility for the benefits selection process and are expressing greater confidence in the benefits they are selecting.”

Employees have also reported increased effectiveness of benefits communications, with levels of effectiveness rising to 42 percent from 36 percent in 2011. Employers also reported increased benefit satisfaction at 37 percent, an increase from 27 percent in 2011.

“For the first time, we are seeing disagreement in the perception of benefits communication effectiveness between employers and employees,” Prudential Group Insurance CMO Jean Wiskowski said. “The research shows that employers believe group meetings at work are the most successful form of communication and education. By contrast, employees told us they prefer multiple forms of outreach including email, traditional mail and online presentations. This indicates that employers may need to re-evaluate their benefits communication tools, to include video and rich media employees can review at their own pace.”

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