Employee Benefit Surveys – Seek, Use and Participate

chalkboard with word survey

The best employee benefit pros know the importance of benchmarking their benefits program. The employee benefit pro who cannot answer questions and provide data affirming that the company’s plans are on par or better than the industry, quickly loses credibility and maybe their jobs. Fortunately, there is a lot of reputable data out there for benefit pros to consult; unfortunately, too many rely on one source of data for all of their benchmarking needs.

Data Everywhere

Benchmarking is not the only use for employee benefit surveys. These surveys keep benefit pros in-the-know regarding industry trends and employee opinions about benefits they receive. However, counting on one survey to benchmark and track trends and opinions is not a good idea. To get all the benefits that survey data can provide benefit pros need to use several different surveys from several different sources.

There are many groups that conduct employee benefits surveys, including government, non-profit organizations, employee benefit consulting firms, TPAs and investment companies, professional associations and major health insurance companies.
  1. Government – Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Office of Personnel Management
  2. Non-profit Organizations – Kaiser Family Foundation, Employee Benefit Research Institute
  3. Consulting Firms – Aon Hewitt, Mercer, Segal, Buck Consulting, Milliman, Inc., Towers Watson & Co., The Segal Group, Hay Group, etc.
  4. Third Party Administrators and Investment Companies – ADP, CBIZ, Ceridian, WageWorks, TIAA-CREF, Fidelity, Vanguard
  5. Professional Associations/Organizations – SHRM, IFEBP, IPMA
  6. Major Health Insurance Companies – Aetna, Cigna, Unitedhealth, Kaiser, Wellpoint, Highmark, BCBS, Humana

Participating in Surveys is a Major Employee Benefit Professional Responsibility

Some employee benefit pros just don’t get it. They see their job as responding to emails and phone calls from employees, as well as doing basic administrative work. They do not get that they are part of a larger community of individuals that needs to create and use data to make meaningful benefit program decisions. When they receive a comprehensive survey questionnaire in the mail, they grumble and set it aside or throw it away.

But if every employer relied on other employers to complete employee benefit questionnaires, where would we all get our survey data? The more employers participate in completing survey questionnaires, the larger the amount of data collected, and the more reliable and valid the results. And we benefit pros know that having reliable and valid survey data is more important than having access to multiple smaller surveys.

Granted, providing data for large-scale benefit surveys takes a lot of work. There is a big time commitment for completing the survey and most surveys require some data computation and manipulation that is not always easy to do. Also, completing these questionnaires often requires running multiple reports from a human resources management or payroll system. Benefit pros that do not have the skills to run these reports may need to seek assistance from payroll or IT staff.


    They say that better data makes for better decision-making. Employee benefit pros need to create a database of reliable and comprehensive surveys from multiple sources to evaluate and maintain their benefit program. In addition, they need to accept their responsibility to be a part of the data collection process by participating in as many relevant surveys as possible. Pros that do not participate in, collect, or use employee benefit survey data are just winging it.

    Do you use employee benefit survey data to perform your job? What surveys do you use and participate in?

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