International Foundation Survey Research Studies: Benchmarking Stats You Can Use

Those working in the employee benefits industry are facing a landscape that changes daily. The International Foundation’s research team takes trending topics, from paid leave to financial education and mental health, and provides in-depth coverage of employer responses through survey reports. The website for the Foundation’s research department was recently redesigned to allow benefits practitioners to filter survey reports by topic area, employment sector and country. The redesign allows our members to refamiliarize themselves with recent reports, the large majority of which are available free to members.

Here are 10 recent benchmarking reports and key statistics from each:
1. Top Trends in Apprenticeship Programs: 2022 Survey Results

Already struggling to replace retiring tradespeople, apprenticeship programs are dealing with a new host of challenges related to mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these hurdles, programs are citing overwhelming success while anticipating a positive hiring outlook in the coming years. The 2022 edition of this survey examines the challenges faced by programs and apprentices, recruitment and retention initiatives, life skills initiatives, and the prevalence and impact of mental health and substance use disorder issues within programs as well as the support available to current apprentices.

Key Statistics

The most prevalent challenge for apprentices is child- and/or elder-care issues (81%), followed by injuries due to the nature of work (66%), decreased job security (65%) and unemployment due to the cyclical/seasonal nature of work (64%). Apprentices also struggle with increased workhours due to reduced hires (62%), transportation issues (60%), and language and communication barriers (59%).

2. The Multiemployer Retirement Plan Landscape: A 15-Year Look (2004-2018)

For the eighth year, Horizon Actuarial Services, LLC, and the International Foundation have partnered on The Multiemployer Retirement Plan Landscape: A 15-Year Look (2004-2018), an annual benchmarking report on multiemployer pension and retirement plans. The report covers both defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) plans using data from Form 5500 Annual Reports filed with the Department of Labor, with 2018 being the most recent information currently available. The report analyzes key trends in demographics, cash flows and investments for defined benefit and defined contribution plans over the fifteen-year period from 2004 through 2018 and helps trustees, consultants and policy makers gain a better understanding of these plans and their environment.

Key Statistics

Plan trustees have taken significant action to improve plan funding levels in the wake of the 2008 market collapse. At December 31, 2018, the median funded percentage of DB plans was 81% on a market-value-of-assets basis, a significant improvement over the end of 2008, which was 67%. On the DC side, the average account balance was about $42,300 at the end of 2018, down from about $42,800 at the end of 2017.

3. Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits: 2021 Survey Results

This August 2021 study covers all aspects of mental health/substance use disorder benefits across the U.S. and Canada, including offerings, covered/addressed conditions, prevalence of conditions, workforce impact and barriers faced.

Key Statistics

About one-half (48%) of responding organizations stated that depression is prevalent in their organizations (either very prevalent or prevalent), followed by anxiety disorders (44%), sleep deprivation (28%), alcohol addiction (23%), prescription drug addiction/substance use disorder (19%), adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD) (18%), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (17%) and nonprescription drug addiction (17%).

4. Employee Benefits in a COVID-19 World—One-Year Update

This May 2021 report is the third International Foundation survey that examines the implications of the pandemic on the workforces of U.S. organizations and focuses on health care benefits, paid leave and flexibility as well as return-to-workplace considerations, including physical workplace changes and worker vaccinations.

Key Statistics

More than four in five (82%) responding organizations previously offered telehealth/telemedicine services, with an additional 14% doing so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those who added these services, 54% stated that they will make them a permanent plan offering.

5. Impact of COVID-19 on Pensions and Benefits in Canada: Spring 2021 Update

This February 2021 follow-up survey addresses changes to DB and DC plans, health benefits, employer assistance programs(EAPs)/employee and family assistance programs (EFAPs), and workforce staffing levels in organizations across Canada.

Key Statistics

More than four in five (82%) responding organizations previously offered telehealth/telemedicine services, with an additional 14% doing so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those who added these services, 54% stated that they will make them a permanent plan offering.

6. The Multiemployer Health Plan Landscape: A Ten-Year Look (2008-2017)

This fourth annual multiemployer health plan benchmarking report was produced in partnership with Horizon Actuarial Services, LLC. The comprehensive report covers the plan demographics, benefit costs, income and plan cash flows of 1,535 multiemployer health plans—providing coverage for more than five million participants.

Key Statistics

Benefit costs over the past decade have increased an average of 4.8% per year, down slightly from 4.9% in the previous year’s report. In the most recent plan year, benefit costs per participant per year for most plans ranged between $8,000 and $15,999.

7. Employee Benefits Survey: 2020 Results

This comprehensive employee benefits benchmarking report takes a deep dive into the topics heavily impacting the current workplace landscape, including pension and retirement plans, health care and dental benefits, telemedicine/telehealth, fertility benefits, prescription drugs, parental leave, paid holidays, vacation and paid-time-off (PTO), disability benefits and sick leave, work/life benefits, educational assistance, transportation benefits and more.

Key Statistics

Nearly all (99%) responding corporations offer prescription drug benefits. The most common cost-management techniques include three or more tiers for cost sharing (86%), the use of a drug formulary (80%), an optional mail-order drug program (75%) and the use of a pharmacy benefit manager (60%).

8. Trends in Benefit Open Enrollment and Communication: 2020 U.S. Survey Report

The Trends in Benefit Open Enrollment and Communication: 2020 U.S. Survey Report discusses standard practices for year-round benefit communication, communication related specifically to open enrollment and how organizations are adjusting their communication efforts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Statistics

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of organizations target specific groups in their benefit communication efforts. Half (51%) of organizations with deskless/nonwired workers target communications specifically to this group, and half (50%) of organizations with workers at satellite offices or stores will target those workers. Employment status (32%), life stage (e.g., new parents, preretirement, etc.) (31%) and worker age (28%) are other commonly used targeting criteria.

9. Workplace Emergency Preparedness: 2020 Survey Report

The purpose of the survey was to gauge the types of events that caused unexpected work stoppages, the types of events organizations anticipate will be problematic in the next few years and what measures they have taken to prevent or mitigate loss in the future. Specifically, it addresses electronic threats, natural disasters (including weather-related events), illnesses and pandemics, and workplace violence. In addition, the survey addressed the policies and procedures concerning sexual harassment in the workplace.

Key Statistics

Within the past five years, 80% of businesses in the United States experienced one or more unexpected events that caused a significant disruption in “business as usual.” During this time, winter storms/extreme cold (38%), loss of power due to blackouts or brownouts (34%), and loss of internet/phone service (31%) were the most frequently cited reasons for interruptions.

10. Trends in Multiemployer Trustee Boards: 2019 Survey Results

The report Trends in Multiemployer Trustee Boards: 2019 Survey Results captures benchmarking data from 233 trust fund representatives covering prominent trust fund challenges, trustee recruitment, selection and retention initiatives, trust fund policies, the use of professional trustees, and trust fund attributes.

Key Statistics

The most prevalent challenge cited in trust fund operations is a concern about constantly changing laws and regulations, indicated by 91% of respondents. This is followed by the fiduciary liability faced by trustees (76%), the time required to train a competent trustee (72%), the personal concerns about lack of appropriate knowledge or experience with fund issues (69%), and the personal liability faced by trustees (69%).

Justin Held, CEBS
Senior Research Analyst at the International Foundation 

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