What Is The Most Important Benefit To Federal Workers?

Results of the 2004 Employee Benefits survey reveal that federal employees feel the Thrift Savings Plan is the most important benefit.

The votes have been tabulated and the results are in: federal employees think the Thrift Savings Plan, employee health benefits, retiree health benefits and retirement annuity are the most important federal employee benefits. Conversely, the lowest rated benefits by federal workers included telework, child-care subsidies and health and wellness programs.

Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Dan G. Blair recently released the results of the 2004 Employee Benefits Survey – the purpose of which was to determine employee attitudes about the importance, adequacy, value, and competitiveness of federal benefit programs.

“Our benefits’ survey focused on 10 benefit programs, ranging from health benefits to retirement annuities, from the Thrift Savings Plan to telework and child care subsidies,” stated OPM Acting Director Dan G. Blair. “The survey not only confirmed federal employees highly value their benefits, but it produced some instructive results that tell us today’s civil servants appreciate the opportunity to manage their own hard-earned dollars.”

Last November, OPM issued the survey to a random sample of over 2,400 employees government-wide. The target population included equal numbers of current employees with three or more years of federal service, and new hires who had less than three years service. OPM received over 850 responses by the end of the eight-week administration period, in January 2005. Survey participants answered a 60-item questionnaire involving 10 benefit programs including Thrift Savings Plan; employee health benefits; retiree health benefits; retirement annuity; life insurance; long term care insurance; flexible spending accounts; health and wellness programs; telework; and child care subsidies.

The Thrift Savings Plan, employee health benefits, retiree health benefits, and retirement annuity consistently rated the highest in importance and value. Life insurance benefits rated the fifth highest. The lowest rated benefits included telework, child care subsidies, and health and wellness programs. Some benefit programs received lower ratings because not all employees meet eligibility requirements, OPM stated. For instance, not all federal employees are eligible for childcare subsidies and some may be unable to participate in telework.

Blair indicated that lower ratings for some benefit programs may point to educational opportunities. For example, flexible spending accounts received relatively low ratings; therefore, increasing education on this program should raise employee perception of its value and may increase enrollment in the program, Blair said.

“We want tomorrow’s federal workers, whether they are this year’s college graduates or experienced senior professionals, to know the benefits of Working for America – in every sense of the word – are the best in the world,” added Blair.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47