Retention Roadblocks: The Hartford’s New Study Shows Employers And U.S. Workers Disagree On Many Workplace Issues, Contributing To Turnover

  • Fifty-nine percent of U.S. workers believe it would be easy to find a new job and many are taking steps to leave
  • Seventy percent of employers believe employees underutilize the services, benefits, and programs they make available, presenting an opportunity for more benefits education

(Photo: Business Wire)

HARTFORD, Conn.--()--New research from The Hartford found that differences in opinion among U.S. workers and employers about company culture and retention are helping to fuel turnover in the workplace. A majority of U.S. workers (59%) said it would be easy to find a new job and many have taken or plan to take steps to leave their current job. While higher wages were the top motivator (47%) for those who switched or plan to switch jobs, 33% of workers said they sought a better workplace culture. Only 14% of employers recognized company culture as a factor in employees’ decisions to leave.

“It is no surprise that workers are seeking higher salaries, but it is concerning employers are not seeing eye-to-eye with their workforce on issues related to workplace culture and retention,” said Jonathan Bennett, head of Group Benefits at The Hartford. “These disconnects are impeding retention. Employers who will attract and retain diverse, innovative and talented people will not only include the foundation of strong pay and benefits, but will be those who embrace a transparent, inclusive work culture that prioritizes flexibility and communication.”

One-third of U.S. workers moved to a new company in the past year or plan to move in the next 12 months, according to The Hartford’s 2022 Future of Benefits Study, which polled U.S. workers and human resource benefit decision-makers. Overall, many workers have taken or plan to take steps to switch jobs, including applying for a job (49%), updating their resume (62%), and looking at job postings (71%). The top five reasons U.S. workers left their job or plan to leave their current job are:

  • Higher wages (47%)
  • Better workplace culture (33%)
  • Career advancement (30%)
  • Flexibility (24%)
  • Poor treatment by management (22%)

Baby Boomers were more likely than other generations to cite higher wages (60%), while Gen Z/Younger Millennials said workplace flexibility (33%), and GenX and Older Millennials said career advancement opportunities (32% and 34% respectively).

Protecting the New Paycheck

Although employee benefits were not a big influence for those seeking new employment opportunities, starting fresh at a new company is a milestone opportunity for workers to spend time learning about and re-evaluating what benefits best fit in with their lifestyle and family. The Hartford’s study found most employers (70%) believe employees underutilize the services, benefits, and programs they make available.

“Historically there has been a lack of understanding about the value and financial support that benefits such as disability and supplemental health insurance can provide when employees are faced with the unexpected,” Bennett said. “Given the large number of workers switching jobs, employers must bridge the education gap and help workers understand how these benefits can protect their new paycheck.”

Most employers (71%) consider the benefits package they offer to their employees to be better than many of the packages offered by their competitors, but only 55% of workers agree. However, this is an upward trend among workers from 50% in February 2021, 45% in June 2020, and in line with how they felt in March 2020 (56%). Even though workers may not view their benefits packages as competitive as employers do, 79% of workers say they value the benefits offered through their employer.

Employers and U.S. workers who don’t currently offer or have access to certain benefits agree on what employee benefits they would like to see offered in the future:

Benefit not currently offered to
some workers

U.S. workers interested in
having their company offer
the benefit

Employers likely to
offer it in the future

Critical illness insurance



Long-term disability insurance



Life insurance



Accident insurance



Short-term disability insurance



Hospital indemnity insurance



Pet insurance



The Great Resignation’s Great Disconnect

The Hartford’s study showed there is an opportunity for employers to better demonstrate the actions they are taking to retain and care for their workforce. Nearly all employers (96%) believe they are taking steps to retain their workforce. However, their efforts are not fully felt by employees with only half of workers (52%) saying their company is taking steps to retain employees.

Employers are also more optimistic about their workplace when it comes to job satisfaction, workplace stress levels and mental health:

  • 69% of employers think their workers are satisfied with their job, but only 48% of workers agree
    • Job satisfaction is lowest among workers at the smallest companies: 35% at companies with 2-50 employees, 47% at companies with 51-500 employees, 50% at companies with 501-5,000 employees and 48% at companies with more than 5,000 employees
  • Only 17% of employers felt turnover has gotten worse, compared to 39% of workers
    • Turnover is also placing a burden on workers, 28% of whom say they are stressed due to being overworked and understaffed
  • 28% of U.S. workers describe their company culture as stressful compared to 11% of employers
  • 80% of employers feel workers have flexibility in their schedule to get the mental health help they need, compared to 53% of U.S. workers – a decrease among workers from 58% in February 2021

The Road to Retention

Bennett said the disconnects among employers and U.S. workers should be viewed as an opportunity to reevaluate offerings, gather and act on feedback from their workforce, and communicate more about company culture and benefits. He recommends employers:

  • Understand that the desire for higher wages will always be present but talk to employees about their goals and what opportunities might be available for career advancement.
  • Recognize that remote work is an enabler of turnover and has provided the talent pool with access to more opportunities. When possible, continue to embrace flexibility in the workplace.
  • Foster an open and inclusive work culture in which workers feel comfortable coming forward when they need help with workload or stress.
  • Help workers understand how important benefits can be to protecting their income by demonstrating the value of employee benefits and highlighting other available services such as employee assistance or wellness programs.
  • Reinforce that employees are in control of their benefits decisions and can customize their selections based on their specific needs to help protect themselves, their family and their future.
  • Provide educational content that talks to employees about different life milestones and how the insurance products can help protect them in different scenarios rather than focusing first on the products.

The Hartford is a leading provider of employee benefits products and services, including leave management, group life and disability insurance, as well as other voluntary products. For more information, visit For more information about the study, visit


The Hartford’s 2022 Future of Benefits Study was fielded Feb. 4 – Feb. 16, 2022 and included 501 employers and 1001 U.S. workers. The employers surveyed were HR professionals who manage/decide employee benefits and U.S. workers surveyed were actively employed. The margin of error is employer +/- 4% and employee +/-3% at a 95% confidence level. The Hartford’s Future of Benefits study was previously conducted in March 2020, June 2020 and February 2021.

About The Hartford

The Hartford is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford is widely recognized for its service excellence, sustainability practices, trust and integrity. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at

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Michelle Symington


Release Summary

New research from The Hartford found that employers and U.S. workers disagree on many workplace issues, contributing to turnover.


Michelle Symington