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The idea of showing an employee what the company spends on benefits for him/her is not new by a long shot. Some companies have been providing employees with a Total Rewards Statement each year since the 90's.

These statements show the cost and value of each and every component of an employee's total rewards package. They are personalized for each employee. Cash is cash (base, incentives, etc.) but when you get to benefits you have 2 ways of showing info to employees --- 1) what the company actually spends on your benefits and/or 2) the amount of $ it would cost the employee to replace that exact same benefit.

Generally, because the company gets group rates their cost is lower than what an employee would have to spend to get an individual policy. Employees really need to see this --- the cost of individual plans in a lot of cases is prohibitive. That is why many terminated employees don't sign up for COBRA. The cost for a family of 4 can cost $1,200 per month or more.

These statements are meant to show employees the total amount the company spends on an employee. It is good communication. Employees tend to think in terms of compensation $ only. Companies want employees to understand there are other things the company spends money on for them.

Actually providing employees these statements has been well received in the companies I know that have done it. If someone has worked for/with companies where these statements have created discontent I would like to hear about them.

The touting of "consumer driven health plans" is a term that consultants have used in the last 5 years or so. The "consumer" is the employee or individual who is purchasing a service i.e. benefits. It encourages employees to study each option their employer provides for healthcare and select the one that is less costly --- maybe has a higher deductible. That's who "consumers" are.

So the fact that the "gov" is requiring this to appear on employees' W-2's is not new and should not be a shock. And it is a way to communicate this cost for employees whose companies don't provide annual Total Rewards Statements --- and there are lot of them.

Jim --- I honestly have never heard the issue of communicating what companies spend on employee benefits cause problems. This is just my experience. Can you be making a few generalizations based on your own opinion? :-)

Jim and Jacque - I think you both make great points.

For employers who provide benefits but have not communicated it to their employees, this may be an opportunity to show the employees just how large an investment the company has in them. Putting this information on the W-2 validates those numbers to employees.

To Jim's observation, yes, there are many who would say 'don't need no stinkin' insurance' but come running back with a hand out when they encounter a need (we've all had experiences with these types of situations).

But, the combination of Obamacare (it's now the law) and the continuous shift in the employer/employee relationship, in my opinion, makes it less probable that employees will push employers to transform benefits dollars into base pay.

Yes I agree Shawn. With employees still skittish about losing their jobs it make sense they want to keep whatever security they have --- and not having to pay for their own benefits is security!

Jacque & Shawn: A company initiative to communicate benefit values is different from a federal mandate to report the cost of those coverages on the employee's personal earnings statement. Unless I've missed it on the W-2s I've received for over 50 years, this is indeed something very new. Perhaps having been a union member before spending time as a labor relations manager has given me a different perspective, but the Mercer report linked above seems to support reasons for concern about employee attitudes towards the value of soft benefits compared to hard cash.

Saying nothing about potential issues created by the W-2 change would be a disservice to our readers who rely on this blog for timely compensation discussions and total reward ideas. It is my sincere hope that all worries about the implications of publishing this number are exaggerated, but I have found that it is always prudent to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

With this headline story http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/health/to-open-eyes-w-2s-list-cost-of-health-plans.html?_r=0 atop my hometown newspaper on SuperBowl Sunday, it appears that the movement to evolve "mere informational disclosure" into "essential and much-needed taxation" has begun. The next few months should demonstrate whether employees will begin to display greater gratitude or simply demand the cash value, especially as employers modify their healthcare premiums payments with the implementation of PPACA regulations.

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