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Voluntary Benefits are a Growing and Essential Component of Employee Benefit Packages

April 8, 2022

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

44% of millennials would consider a job change to secure better benefits, according to a new survey from Buck, an integrated HR, pensions, and benefits consulting, technology, and administration services firm. Faced with increased competition for talent, 72% of employers plan to add additional voluntary benefits.

Since the start of the pandemic, 52% of employers have added on average six new voluntary benefit offerings to demonstrate support for employee physical, social, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

These findings are reported in Buck’s 2022 Wellbeing and Voluntary Benefits Survey, a biennial study that tracks how organizations use voluntary benefits to support employee wellbeing, enhance benefit programs, and attract and retain talent. This edition’s research was supplemented with a parallel employee survey, allowing comparison of differences between employer and employee responses, ranging from current wellbeing to feedback on offerings versus employee needs.

“Voluntary benefits are a core component of any employer’s benefit package, allowing employees to self-select from a menu of offerings, typically at reduced or increasingly no cost,” said Tom Kelly, a Principal in Buck’s Health practice and co-author of the report. “The average employer offers 12 voluntary options, providing employees with the choice to select benefits that match their needs and life stage. And employees agree that voluntary benefits are an essential part of their benefits package and offer better value than buying similar services privately.”

Key survey findings include:

  • Employers recognize the importance of supporting employee wellbeing to increase job satisfaction and engagement: 68% have enhanced their employee value proposition, and 97% offer at least one voluntary benefit, up from 88% in 2020.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of employers are seeking to foster increased job satisfaction, engagement, and the ability to attract and retain talent through voluntary benefits. This concurs with employee views: 68% ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that voluntary benefits are an essential part of a comprehensive benefits package.
  • 84% of employers have increased their benefit communications to improve awareness of offerings and wellbeing support, yet only 51% of employees think their employer has increased its commitment to wellbeing.
  • The fastest growing voluntary benefits between the 2020 and 2022 surveys include: Hospital indemnity (+20%); personal loans (+19%); financial coaching/planning (+19%); caregiving (+12%); and critical illness (+11%).

“Employers are increasingly using voluntary benefits to strengthen their employee value proposition and tangibly demonstrate commitment to supporting the diverse needs of their workforce,” said Ruth Hunt, a Principal in the Engagement practice and co-author of the report. “Benefits meeting essential needs such as emergency savings, mental health, caregiving, credit improvement, or personal loans, as well as discount purchasing programs, can play a part in easing the financial and related mental and emotional stress that employees cited as their two top wellbeing concerns. Both employers and employees agree there must be a more holistic approach to improve wellbeing.”

When it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, benefits such as medical, life and disability insurance, as well as educational and training opportunities are key. SBAM has affordable and flexible employee benefits that you need to compete with big businesses in building a successful team.

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