With the effects of the pandemic still being felt nationwide, Boomers aging out of the workforce, and Gen Z entering it, worker priorities are shifting. A great salary alone won’t sustain a talented workforce anymore. Costs for all things, from healthcare to food and gas, continue to rise, and employees are looking to their employers to help them keep up.
That’s where voluntary benefits come in. Options like mental health services to fight stress and burnout and financial wellness assistance can add appealing variety to your business’s benefits package while staying within your company’s budget.
What Are Voluntary Benefits?
You're probably already familiar with a few of the most common voluntary employee benefits, like dental, vision, and life insurance. These products supplement the expected benefits your company must provide, offering employees optional access to goods and services at discounted group rates.
Usually, voluntary benefits are:
Paid for via payroll deductions and withholdings
Generally offered at no direct cost to the employer
Optional, allowing employees to customize their benefits to suit their needs
Examples of Voluntary Benefits
Looking for more specific examples? Here are a few popular voluntary employee benefits options that companies are offering their employees right now, from the familiar to the new and unique:
The traditional offerings: dental, vision, and life insurance
Wellness programs, like gym memberships and health tracking apps
Modern healthcare offerings emerging to keep up with our changing work, like mental health services, contagious disease riders, and nation-wide healthcare networks with telehealth services
Financial services, like investment advice, student loan repayment assistance, and identity theft prevention
Miscellaneous services like pet insurance, grocery deliveries, legal services, and childcare assistance
As you can see, voluntary employee benefits provide employees with a wide variety of services they may not have been able to access otherwise due to cost or time constraints. Once thought of as fringe benefits, an overall shift from an emphasis on salary to an emphasis on work-life balance and wellbeing has made offerings like these increasingly vital to recruiting and retaining top talent across all industries.
What’s on Trend for This Year
A recent survey found that 94% of employers thought voluntary benefits were an important part of building a benefits package that would net and retain talent. That’s a massive jump from just 36% in 2018, and it means that a greater number of employers are going to be offering more voluntary benefits in the coming years.
Whether you’re trying to bring in new blood or wanting to maintain or improve employee retention, designing a robust voluntary benefits package with options that meet modern workers' needs will help your company to stand out from the rest.
1. More Expansive Health Insurance Options
With rising healthcare costs and pandemic stress, additional voluntary healthcare options are becoming more popular across the board.
The popularity and accessibility of telehealth services continue to grow. Remote health service options can potentially get your employees the care they need when they need it, improving overall wellness and decreasing stress and absenteeism.
Expanded mental health services are helping to cut back on stress, burnout, and turnover, particularly when used in tandem with remote healthcare options.
Hospital indemnity assists the insured with paying for hospital stays – cutting down on one of the biggest costs of emergency healthcare. With ongoing pandemic fears, many estimate that hospital indemnity will be one of the fastest-growing benefits.
Critical illness insurance and communicable disease riders offer financial protection for those affected by COVID-19 and a number of other catastrophic illnesses.
2. Identity Theft Protection & Monitoring
Reports of identity theft – stolen credit cards, fraudulent purchases, and medical fraud – have been skyrocketing in recent years, and can be potentially devastating to victims.
Identity theft protection monitors credit reports, public records, financial information, and social security numbers for potential suspicious activity.
When suspicious activity does occur, an alert is sent to the protected.
If information is compromised, these services will help with resolving any issues and restoring the integrity of your financial identity.
Older employees find this offering particularly valuable, according to SHRM.
3. Pet Insurance
Believe it or not, pet insurance is an increasingly popular choice in the United States, with purchasing rates increasing by about 25% between 2016 and 2020 alone. Adoptions went up during the pandemic, and pet owners old and new are looking for ways to help cover the cost of care. According to LendEDU, one in three Fortune 500 companies offer some type of pet insurance to their employees.
Pet insurance comes in a few different coverage levels, accident-only, comprehensive, and comprehensive with a wellness package, giving buyers a few options to pick from.
Functionally, pet insurance is a little more like property insurance, in that the insured is reimbursed for care after paying for it.
4. Group Legal Services
Legal services are becoming more in-demand for employees, especially after the pandemic began and many people found themselves in situations where they needed guidance about legal and financial matters.
Group legal provides comprehensive legal coverage to individuals and their families when they opt in.
Services like this can take the stress out of needing to contact a lawyer for estate planning, bankruptcy services, landlord/tenant issues, and family law issues.
5. Financial Wellness & Planning Services
Money has always been a source of stress for employees, and rising costs around the pandemic have only made matters worse. Benefits that give a sense of financial security will lower that stress, and employers can expect to find their people happier and more productive as a result.
Financial reimbursements for commuting, child-care support, and tuition are all popular voluntary benefits. Student loan repayment assistance, which helps to beat those hefty college loans, is in high demand across multiple generational lines.
Retirement savings plans with matching are still the most important voluntary benefit to employees.
Financial planning and coaching offers services to educate your employees about saving, investing, budgeting, and managing debt.
How to Provide Better Benefits to Your Employees
Whether it’s offering a marketplace where employees can browse and select voluntary benefits or providing a convenient app that lets them view their benefits information and find doctors - Bennie does just that.
Bennie’s user-friendly mobile and web app works as a go-to resource for employees to make the most out of their benefits. Members can simply open the app and view digital ID cards, insurance plan information, search for in-network medical providers, and browse a marketplace with preferred partners. Plus, Bennie members have access to Ask Bennie, a healthcare concierge available to help employees with questions about their benefits, claims, and more.