In this economy, it’s no surprise that employees are feeling insecure. While many employers think it’s all about the money, a recent survey conducted by Aflac, a voluntary and guaranteed-renewable insurance provider, shows that employees are more concerned with their benefits packages than their salaries.

In fact, more than half of those surveyed for the 2011 Aflac WorkForces Report (54 percent) say that they would accept a job offer with better benefits, even if that meant their employers were putting less money in their pockets.

“Businesses offering employees and prospective employees comprehensive benefits are positioning themselves to maintain a productive workforce, to attract and retain the best talent, to drive greater employee satisfaction, and to control costs,” says Audrey Tillman, executive vice president of corporate services, Aflac.

If you’re a restaurateur who thinks employee benefits don’t have any effect on your business, think again. Employees who do not receive a benefits package—or who are unsatisfied with the package they’re receiving—are more likely to worry about their financial stability. This, in turn, leads to a loss of productivity on the job. The Aflac survey found that 16 percent of work productivity is lost due to these types of personal concerns.

Workers who suffer from financial instability tend to be absent from work more often than other employees, Tillmann says. “When they are present at work, these employees often are not able to focus as they should,” she says, which ultimately affects the success of their employer.

As workers continue to place heavy emphasis on benefits, Tillman says employee turnover will rise at companies that do not meet the benefit demands of their employees.

“The retail sector has cause for serious concern, as the benefits packages offered by retail employers are less competitive than those offered by employers in all other industries,” she says, noting that 20 percent of the survey’s retail data respondents come from the restaurant industry.

Until this problem is effectively addressed by employers, the retail sector will continue seeing high rates of employee dissatisfaction and turnover, she says, which means employers will spend more time on hiring and less time on other critical business needs.

“Smart retail organizations will focus on winning the talent war by understanding the direct correlation between a better-protected, more-satisfied workforce and retention,” Tillman says.

But what if you already offer a substantial benefits package to your employees? Even if this is the case, Tillmann says, there’s a risk that employees aren’t aware of, or do not understand, their benefits.

Retail employers communicate less frequently with employees about benefits than any other type of employer, Tillman says. According to the survey, 36 percent of retail employers communicate as little as twice a year, while half of respondents say they communicate three to five times per year.

This issue, Tillman says, is simple to solve. “Improving the processes by which benefits are effectively communicated to employees and making employees feel engaged can have significant benefits for employees in terms of making workers less likely to leave their jobs,” she says.

“In fact, two in five employees agree that a well-communicated benefits program would make them less likely to leave.”

By Mary Avant

Industry News, Labor & Employees, Philanthropy