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HR survey: Retirement plan, health care, job security, workplace flexibility most important

Last fall, Emory University Human Resources engaged Mercer, an independent consulting firm, to conduct a benefits and rewards survey of university faculty and staff. A total of 4,011 employees completed the survey, representing an overall participation level of 37 percent (the participation rate for faculty was 28.5 percent, for staff it was 40.3 percent and for librarians, 64.5 percent).

The purpose of the survey was to establish a baseline measure for what faculty and staff liked about working at Emory. It asked faculty and staff to give input on:

  • What they found most attractive when they first joined Emory University
  • What they find most attractive now
  • Overall satisfaction with the university’s benefits and rewards programs
  • General engagement with working at Emory

View a chart of the results.

Key findings

1. Factors of attraction and retention shift with length of service.

The type of work and Emory’s brand/reputation ranked as the highest factors in terms of initially attracting individuals to come to work at Emory. However, in thinking about what is most attractive today, elements such as the retirement plan, flexible work arrangements and time off/leave benefits become more important, while career advancement opportunities and competitive pay declined in relative importance.

2. Retirement plan, health care, job security and type of work ranked highest.

In terms of importance in benefits, Emory’s match on the retirement plan ranked the highest, followed by keeping health care costs down and having flexible work arrangements. The retirement match was more valued by older and higher earning employees. Controlling health care costs, however, was similar in importance to all age groups and salary levels.

3. Financial wellness varies by salary level.

Slightly less than a third of respondents (29 percent) described their financial situation as stressful. Relatively small numbers (12 percent) said they anticipated relying on credit cards to pay bills in the near future, yet one in five would be challenged with an unforeseen expense of $400. One third do not believe they are doing enough to prepare for retirement.

4. Engagement scores are healthy.

Engagement scores are generally favorable:

  • 87 percent are proud to work for Emory (4 percent higher than norms in Mercer’s database)
  • 78 percent would recommend Emory to others as a good place to work (4 percent higher than norms)
  • 74 percent feel a strong sense of commitment to Emory (7 percent lower than norms)
  • 67 percent are not currently considering leaving employment at Emory (2 percent lower than norms).

5. Concern around ability to retire is uniting trend.

The ability to retire is the top financial concern among all segments.

Next steps

A team from Human Resources is analyzing the data collected from the survey, including the 3,900 comments. One point of interest is to understand any differences in preferences between faculty and staff. HR plans to use the survey data in assessing how Emory’s benefit programs are meeting the needs of faculty and staff. While no major changes are anticipated, HR expects the data to help understand faculty and staff priorities as a basis for future planning.

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