Nearly three-quarters (70 per cent) of U.S. employers say their company’s benefits package is critical to attracting and retaining the best workers, according to a new report by LIMRA.

It found half (51 per cent) of employers believe their company will be offering more benefits in the future than it does today and another six in 10 (61 per cent) said their employees will expect a wider variety of benefits options.

Indeed, many employees — especially middle-income workers, younger workers and those who currently don’t work with a financial advisor — rely heavily on an employer to provide a comprehensive benefits package, said the report. Notably, two-fifths (40 per cent) of employees said they completely rely on their workplace benefits for health insurance, followed by dental coverage (36 per cent), disability (20 per cent), life insurance (16 per cent), saving for retirement (14 per cent), wellness programs (10 per cent), savings and investment goals (nine per cent) and paying down debt (eight per cent).

Read: Survey finds majority of employers say attraction, retention increasingly impacting total rewards decisions

More companies are offering benefits on a contributory or voluntary basis, shifting the costs to their workers. When asked what steps their company has taken in the past two years to manage their benefits program, more than half (55 per cent) of employers said their company negotiated with providers for better terms, lower premiums and fees to better manage costs, while 45 per cent said they added one or more benefits to remain competitive.

When asked about their understanding of their workplace benefits, roughly seven in 10 (72 per cent) employees said they understand dental benefits extremely or very well, while a similar percentage (69 per cent) said the same about medical insurance. However, the percentage begins to decrease when it comes to employees’ understanding of benefits such as retirement, life insurance and short-term disability (58 per cent, 56 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively).

Half (50 per cent) of employees said they currently only receive communications about benefits once a year during open enrolment and roughly a quarter (24 per cent) said they’d like to have communication around benefits frequently throughout the year.

Read: 47% of Canadian employees relying on workplace benefits to improve well-being: report