Employees are increasingly dissatisfied with their benefits, and therefore dissatisfied with their employers.

This trend, according to new research released by Unum, highlights the correlation between employers’ benefit offerings and the ability to attract and retain top talent. What’s more, the survey found employees who receive education about their employee benefits tend to be more satisfied with their benefits — and ultimately their employers. Benefit advisers working with employers can stress the importance of benefits education on employee satisfaction and how that translates into better employee attraction and retention.

The survey results released Tuesday show employee satisfaction with their benefits continues to closely relate to satisfaction with their employer. More than three-quarters (77%) of those workers who rate their benefits package as “excellent” or “very good” also rate their employer as an excellent or very good place to work. By contrast, only 17% of employees who consider their benefits package to be fair or poor rate their workplace as excellent or very good.

Also, 79% of workers who rated the education around their benefits as excellent or very good also rated their employer as excellent or very good — compared with only 30% of those who said the education they received was fair or poor.

“This research underscores the value of an effective benefits education plan because when an employee understands their benefits, they tend to value them more and in turn may then value their employers more for providing access to them,” says Bill Dalicandro, vice president of the consumer solutions group at Unum.

The Unum research reiterates recent findings from the Aflac Workforces Report that small business employees are not only dissatisfied with their employer’s benefit offerings but also willing to take a pay cut to work for an employer offering better benefits.

See related story: Most small business employees dissatisfied with benefits

Unum’s online survey of 1,521 working adults, conducted by Harris Poll, finds that only half (49%) of U.S. workers rate their employer as an excellent or very good place to work and less than half (47%) of employees who were offered benefits by their employer rated their benefits as excellent or very good. This is the lowest rating of benefits in six years of conducting the research.

The survey also shows employees do not feel they are getting the information they need about the benefits they’re being offered. Only 33% of employees who were asked to review benefits in the prior year rated the benefits education they received as excellent or very good – a drop from 2012 and a reversal to the upward trend in ratings since 2009. In addition, nearly three in 10 (28%) rated their benefits education as fair or poor.

“With health care reform and other changes in employee benefit plans, employees have so much information to digest right now,” explains Dalicandro. “Employers can play such a great role in helping their employees understand their options so they will feel comfortable making benefits decisions.”

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