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Press release from Business Wire

Employee morale still on the decline, but benefits education can help

<p class='bwalignc'> <i>Unum research finds higher worker satisfaction linked to effective benefits education</i> </p>

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Employee morale still on the decline, but benefits education can help09:30 EDT Wednesday, August 08, 2012 CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Business Wire) -- Employee morale continues a slow but steady decline from 2008 levels, but the approaching benefits enrollment season offers employers a chance to positively engage their employees, according to research from Unum (NYSE:UNM). The fourth annual survey of American workers, completed following the 2011 benefits enrollment period, finds that more than one-quarter (28%) say morale has declined since last year. The survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive among more than 1,100 employed adults, also found that just 55 percent of workers would choose to stay with their employer if they were offered the same pay and benefits elsewhere – a 7 point drop since 2008. And despite seeing modest gains in employment and a more stable work environment, only 52 percent of the workers surveyed rated their employer as a very good or excellent place to work. There's no question the larger economic environment influences this conversation. According to the research, one in three employees does not feel financially secure, and more than one in four says they feel less financially secure compared to last year at this time. Almost half are not confident they have enough money to cover future expenses. “In this climate, the need for effective benefits education is greater than ever,” said Barbara Nash, vice president of Corporate Research at Unum. “Our research shows that a good benefits education experience is a highly effective, low-cost way for employers to demonstrate their concern for employees and their well-being.” The link between a positive benefit education experience and overall workplace satisfaction isn't new, yet Unum's research finds that employers continue to spend too little time and fewer resources on helping employees understand their benefits: Unum's research finds that 28 percent of employees who were asked to review their benefits in the past year said the benefits education provided by their employers is fair or poor. Only half of those employees said they received printed information or brochures, down from 70 percent in 2008. Just over a third of those employees were offered a chance to attend an information and question-and-answer session about benefits, down from 52 percent in 2008. The percentage who had access to a toll-free number to speak with a benefits advisor dropped sharply from 47 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2011. Unum's research shows just how important an effective benefits education can be with regards to workplace satisfaction. In this most recent survey, 82 percent of employees who rated their benefits education highly also rated the employer an excellent or very good place to work. Conversely, only 27 percent of employees who rated their benefits education as fair or poor also said their employer was an excellent or very good place to work. And some 79 percent of those who rated their benefits education highly said they would choose to stay with their current employer even if they were offered the same pay and benefits elsewhere. “At the heart of the survey's findings is a clear connection between effective benefits education and engaged employees,” said Nash. “When employers show their concern for their employees' financial well-being, everyone benefits.” About Unum Unum (www.unum.com) is one of the leading providers of employee benefits products and services in the United States and the United Kingdom. Through its subsidiaries, Unum Group paid approximately $6 billion in total benefits to customers in 2011. Harris Interactive Survey Methodology The 2011 survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Unum from December 16-20, 2011 among a total of 3,339 adults 18 and older, 1,820 of whom are employed full- or part-time and 1,147 of whom were asked to review their employee benefits in the past year. The 2008 survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Unum from December 9-11, 2008 among a total of 2,137 adults 18 and older, 1,122 of whom are employed full- or part-time and 659 of whom were asked to review their employee benefits in the past year. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Brian Baker at (423) 294-7839. About Harris Interactive Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. www.harrisinteractive.com. UnumBrian Baker, 423-294-7839bbaker4@unum.com