Voluntary Benefits Best To 'Fit Employee Needs'

A new survey from Willis Towers Watson found that about eight in 10 employees (79%) think voluntary benefits enrich existing core benefit plans by offering more personalized benefits to employees that fit their needs and lifestyle. Three in four workers say voluntary benefits appeal to multiple generations within the workforce, and 74% say these benefits support employee financial well-being.

A sick pet, for example, can set an employee back hundreds or thousands of dollars for care, not including the days they may need to take off. Thirty-four percent of the 336 U.S. employers polled say they currently offer pet insurance, but that number is expected to increase to 57% by 2021, according to Willis’ “2018 Voluntary Benefits Survey.”

Identity theft protection, another popular voluntary benefit, is increasingly vital for employees as scores of retailers, hospitals and credit bureaus were the victims of cyberattacks in the past year.

Recently, Milwaukee-based financial services firm Baird upgraded its identity theft protection offering from a voluntary benefit to an employer-sponsored benefit to better protect its employees.

Other employers are likely to follow suit; the Willis Towers Watson survey found that identity theft protection will increase to 63% by 2021, from 36% in 2018.

Voluntary benefits remain popular among employers and employees, and for good reason, says Jilek.

“These benefits are a cost-efficient way to provide additional coverage to employees, and they can help employers attract and retain talented employees, many of whom tend to migrate to employers who offer choice and flexibility,” she says, adding, “Employees, on the other hand, see great value in voluntary benefits, which they are able to purchase through their employer at a lower group rate compared with on the individual market.”

What changes are ahead for Voluntary Benefits?

Other voluntary benefits expected to attract more employer attention over the next few years include:

  • Identify theft protection: 36% of employers currently offer — could increase to 63% by 2021
  • Pet insurance: 34% of employers currently offer — could increase to 57% by 2021
  • Long-term care insurance: 16% of employers currently offer — could double to 33% by 2021
  • Critical-illness insurance: 43% of employers currently offer — could increase to 71% by 2021
  • Hospital indemnity: 24% of employers currently offer — could more than double to 50% by 2021

“The good news is that improvements in enrollment technology are making it easier for employers to expand their voluntary benefit offerings — and the expanded choices are resonating. We’re seeing an increasing number of employees elect voluntary benefit products,” concluded Sherri Bockhorst, managing director, Benefits Delivery and Administration, Willis Towers Watson.

Employee benefits don’t have to break the bank but it is vital that employees feel valued and listened to. Looking after your employees will benefit your business in the long run; after all, happy workers equal happy customers.