The majority of U.S. workers who say they understand their workplace benefits plan are happier (76 per cent) and have a greater sense of overall stability at work (82 per cent) than those who don’t understand their benefits (47 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively), according to a new survey by MetLife Inc.

The survey, which polled more than 2,600 employees, found three-quarters (73 per cent) of workers said happiness is the most important aspect of their work experience.

Despite the positive impact benefits have on employees, the survey identified several barriers that frequently hinder comprehension. Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of employees said understanding how to use their benefits would give them a greater sense of overall stability, while 50 per cent said having a better understanding of their benefits, such as what’s offered and what’s covered, would make them more loyal to their employer.

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Roughly a third (31 per cent) of employees said they procrastinated when selecting their benefits last year and 37 per cent wish they’d had more time to make the right choices. Notably, one in six employees said they regret their benefits selections from last year.

More than two-fifths (44 per cent) of employees said they didn’t consult others before enroling in benefits last year and this group was less likely to fully understand their benefits and more likely to worry about unexpected health and financial issues.

“Employee benefits play a massive role in employees’ lives both at and outside of work — and a big part of this is not just the benefits themselves, but also the awareness of how they are used,” said Jamie Madden, senior vice-president of workforce engagement and benefits connectivity at MetLife, in a press release. “Understanding benefits leads to more informed open enrolment decisions, better utilization and a happier, more stable and generally more satisfied workforce.”

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