A recent study underscored the high value that workers put on benefits and the gap between what the federal government provides and what is generally provided in the workplace.

In an Employee Benefit Research Institute study, 36 percent of the 1,500 respondents said that benefits were extremely important to their decision to accept or reject a job offer and another 41 percent said that it was very important. Twenty-two percent said they have accepted, quit or changed jobs because of the benefits the employer offered or failed to offer.

“Workers overwhelmingly consider health insurance to be the most important workplace benefit,” the study said, with 64 percent calling it extremely important and another 24 percent calling it very important. “Indeed, having access to health insurance through their employer is considered so important that 6 in 10 report they are planning to work longer than they would like in order to continue receiving health insurance through their employer.”

However, only 80 percent said their employer offers health insurance, while only 70 percent said they are offered vision/dental insurance and 56 percent are offered life insurance—the government offers all of those to its employees and the life insurance program has an accidental death and dismemberment feature available to only 46 percent of those surveyed.

Perhaps most importantly, only 31 percent said they are offered a traditional defined benefit plan and only 70 percent said they are offered a defined contributions plan—again, the government provides both.

One area where the government does not measure up is that it does not offer short-term disability insurance (although it does offer 13 days of sick leave per year which accumulate without limit if not used) while 56 percent of respondents said their company offers that form of insurance.