Employee Benefits

Why Employers Should Consider Voluntary Benefits as Essential

African American working father using laptop while mother is homeschooling their children.

During the pandemic, voluntary benefits have taken on new value for employees. As employees struggle with the stress of balancing work and family caregiving needs, they use voluntary benefits such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for counseling. Those dealing with unexpected financial issues find help through their employers’ voluntary well-being and savings programs. And, more and more employees use their voluntary dental and vision plans to help them stay healthier.

These experiences demonstrate that employees need access to voluntary benefits for a variety of reasons. These plans give employees choices for coverage outside of traditional health plans. In addition, voluntary benefits are popular recruitment and retention tools for employers. Learn more about why employers should consider voluntary benefits as essential in the workplace.

Provides financial security

Employees are adjusting to a “new normal.” They struggle to cope with all the changes and new responsibilities. Often the experiences are uncomfortable and stressful. For example, many employees work from home while trying to keep kids engaged with their online classes.

Employers who offer a range of voluntary benefits find that employees value having access to these plans. The benefits help ease employees’ stress, and they provide security to help meet their needs.

Employees today especially are interested in voluntary plans that assist with their financial challenges. Due to COVID-19, many workers have struggled to pay monthly bills, including payments for private student loan debts (federal student loans were deferred during the pandemic). Some employees had work hours cut, and many others lost jobs or were furloughed.

One study found that 84% of Americans are stressed over their finances due to COVID-19. About 39% said they are very or somewhat worried about their financial situation in the next 12 months. So it’s no wonder over 50% of people are interested in voluntary financial wellness benefits. These include student loan repayment assistance, employee purchase benefits, financial counseling, 401(k) retirement plans and other savings programs.

Protects health

Dental and vision voluntary benefits are popular as well. Employees want these plans automatically included in their employer-sponsored benefits packages. Workers value dental and vision benefits because these plans help them care for themselves and their families. Dental and vision insurance helps them affordably take advantage of regular preventive care. It is essential to maintaining healthy teeth and good eyesight for the long run.

By protecting the healthiness of their teeth and eyes, employees can prevent expensive procedures that can significantly impact their budgets. And during yearly exams, doctors can detect signs of emerging medical conditions, like diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Many employees schedule preventive exams to monitor health changes vs. scheduling doctor’s appointments. This way they do not have to wonder how they will pay for a doctor visit if their health plan deductible has not been met. Of course, nothing can replace quality health care when suffering from a medical condition.

This may be why employees also appreciate voluntary telemedicine benefits. Telemedicine has become a popular benefit. It allows employees and family members to communicate with health professionals without visiting the office. Telemed appointments generally are available within a few days of contacting the office. This option provides employees safe and speedy access to health care in many fields.

Engages employees

The pandemic has raised employees’ appreciation for employers who provide a range of voluntary benefits. They especially value coverage that can be tailored to individual or family needs. Employees who receive these benefits are grateful to their employers and tend to stay on the job longer. This commitment saves businesses money because they are spending less on employee turnover costs.

Do employees know about all of their benefits and how to use them? To make sure, employers should adopt a monthly communications strategy to showcase the benefits available to employees. It will help educate workers about coverage features they may be missing. In these communications, briefly explain how employees can use well-being programs and preventive health coverage to remain healthy and happy. The goal is to inform and generate interest, so employees want to learn more.

Sources:

Benefitfocus
Purchasing Power
BenefitsPro