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Employees of all industries are looking for a basic portfolio of benefits to help them protect their health and gain optimal financial security—for themselves and their families. But for employees in the construction industry, many of those benefits needs are heightened due to daily tasks that involve climbing, lifting, reaching, stretching and braving the weather elements. High-risk activity means it’s essential to keep a closer eye on physical safety and general well-being in the workplace. 

When it comes to offering a benefits strategy that helps deliver on this need, there’s a simple formula to keep in mind: More  benefits choices and more benefits education means greater loyalty and higher productivity.

According to MetLife’s 14th Employee Benefits Trends Survey, because of the heightened potential for risk, many construction industry employers offer 100 percent employer-paid benefits: 38 percent for medical, 35 percent for prescription, 34 percent for vision and 33 percent for dental. And, 37 percent of construction employers say that offering short-term disability insurance contributes to their employees’ productivity.

Yet, 46 percent of construction employees say they want more medical benefits. Sixteen percent of these employees do not have medical benefits at all, 25 percent do not have prescription coverage, 32 percent do not have dental, and 34 percent do not have life insurance. Another 28 percent get their benefits through external third parties rather than their employer.

Not having access to such critical benefits has multiple effects. The most notable impact is on employee loyalty and the intent to stay with the employer. Across all industries, the study finds that among those who are offered one to five benefits, 68 percent say that they intend to still be working for their organizations in the next 12 months. That percentage jumps to 78 percent for those offered six to 10 benefits, and then to 82 percent for those offered 11 to 15 benefits.

Not understanding how to best utilize available benefit options creates another ripple effect. The study finds that construction employees would like some form of financial education through the workplace, but many are not receiving it. Eighty percent of construction employees say that their company does not provide financial education workshops (corroborated by 71 percent of construction employers). At the same time, 60 percent of construction employees say that one-on-one consulting helps them understand financial needs.

Thirty-one percent of construction workers say they are less productive at work because of financial worries. With these tools, employers have a unique opportunity to provide much-requested training, education and one-on-one guidance, and help alleviate outside stressors that impact their workers.

Simple fixes can yield high value. Construction leaders should evaluate the medical and non-medical benefits they offer and spend some quality time with their workforce to get clarity on desired benefits choices. Enrollment season is not far away, making it a great time to reassess the company’s benefits package, fill any benefits gaps, and educate the workforce to ultimately increase loyalty and commitment and create happy and productive employees.

Jim Hardman is an executive at MetLife Specialty Markets, an inductee in the MetLife Hall of Fame and has served as chairman of the MetLife Advisory Council. For more information, email jhardman@metlife.com

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